Setting Up & Regulating Anniversary Clocks

*It is essential that a clock is “set up” when put into operation after a move to a new position. No matter how thoroughly a pendulum clock is overhauled, if it does not receive this final attention it may suffer from loss of power and subsequently stop. All clocks leaving workshops will have been set “in beat” on a level surface. Provided that a clock is transported carefully with the pendulum removed or secured and subsequently placed on a firm level surface, no adjustment may be necessary.

Anniversary Clock Siting

A clock capable of running a year between windings has a delicate mechanism and is very susceptible to vibration or knocks. The slightest sideways movement can stop a clock.

Always site anniversary clocks on a solid surface like a mantelpiece or shelf, never a table.


A number of factors affect the timekeeping of a clock (temperature, balance, etc.). No matter how well a clock may have been overhauled, final adjustment is almost always necessary. A rotary pendulum has a fixed length, unlike a conventional clock. Although length does affect the timekeeping, adjustments are made by moving the balls or pendulum weights in and out. Ball type pendulums normally have a serrated adjustment nut and this is often marked “Fast – Slow” or “Advance – Retard”. This moves all the balls in and out simultaneously. Older clocks often had a flat disk pendulum with a pair of weights connected by a steel shaft. These are adjusted by rotating the shaft that connects them using a small key. This makes both weights move in and out simultaneously. The further out the balls or weights, the slower the clock will run.

Do not alter the pendulum more than once in 24 hours and remember that spring-driven clocks may run slower as the spring unwinds. Keep a note of the amount of adjustment made and resulting effect.

The reputation anniversary clocks have for poor timekeeping is generally unfair. Weekly wound clocks tend to be corrected weekly for any small loss or gain. Because anniversary clocks require no attention for months on end, the error accumulates unnoticed until it becomes unacceptable. A well-regulated clock with a modern temperature compensating suspension should keep good time.

*NEVER MOVE A CLOCK WITH THE PENDULUM ATTATCHED, as this will put it out of beat, damage the delicate spring on which the pendulum is suspended and may cause expensive damage to the escapement.

~ Setting Up ~

The Pendulum

The variation in design of anniversary clocks makes it impossible to give precise instructions on all models, but they fall into two main categories:

Detachable pendulums: The pendulums of these older and simpler clocks are completely removed for transport. Very carefully fit the pendulum onto the brass block at the bottom of the suspension wire. If a suspension wire guard is fitted, then this sometimes has to be raised (by loosening any nuts or by friction alone) to get access to the bottom block.

Never put any strain on the wires as you fit the pendulum. The hook normally goes up and over the pins projecting from the sides of the block. Ensure that the bottom of the pendulum fits within any guide on the base.

Attached pendulums: Later models have locking devices to allow the clock to be moved with the pendulum in place. Various methods have been used, but almost all involve levers that hold and release the pendulum securely. Gently release the lever.


Later clocks have leveling screws. Adjust these until the pendulum hangs quite centrally. If no leveling screws are fitted, check the surface beneath the clock with a spirit level and ensure the pendulum hangs centrally. A poor but functional method of leveling is to use two small cardboard wedges under the base.

Starting and Stopping

Start by rotating the pendulum in either direction one complete turn from the stationary position and let go. It will rotate slightly faster than normal, but will gradually settle down to about ¾ of a turn each way.

Never turn the pendulum more than 1½ turns, as this may put a permanent twist in the wire rendering it useless.

To stop the clock, gently grasp the pendulum as it approaches the central position.


Although known as anniversary clocks (the intention being to wind them on a particular anniversary each year), some models go for 1,000 days and at least one cheap model only goes for a month.

*Some very modern clocks rotate quickly, with up to 3 revolutions each way.