Category Archives: Morbier Comtoise Clocks

Comtoise Morbier

This clock is obviously a marriage of case and movement. Neither are old . . . vintage at best.

The case is exceptional, heavily carved oak with panel sides. It’s over seven feet tall and looks very grand.

The movement is an authentic French handmade Comtoise Morbier. Unusual in that one has the option of bell or gong strike combinations  and night time silent option. I was able to find the manufacturer of this movement, still in business today:

Morbier clocks are a particular favorite of mine. The robust well engineered works appeal to my taste. Over the years, I have collected antique, vintage and newer versions of these wonderful clocks.

A word of advice when collecting the newer ones: to my knowledge, there are only about two manufacturers in existence who hand make authentic Comtoise movements. The lesser quality copies are easy to spot as they will most likely be fitted with small Hermle type movements and they are typically of lower quality in all other respects: face, trim hands, pendulum etc. . . As with anything of quality, of course, authentic Comtoises come at a price!

This is the link to the other quality manufacturer:

Here is a few photos of the movement:

French Morbier Comtoise Grandfather Clock. ca 1850/60. (movement and face only)

This clock is obviously a marriage of an original Comtoise Morbier movement and a newer hand crafted case. I purchased this clock mainly for the case. Which is exceptionally well crafted.  It appears to be a handmade case of the highest quality.

The movement was fitted with a single bob pendulum that was also fashioned specifically for this case.

When I inspected the movement I noticed upon attempting to wind the clock that the winding arbor on the time train side would spin without engaging the ratchet wheel and the weight would not raise.

Upon closer inspection, I found a serious problem! The steel winding arbor (that the winding key fits onto) had sheared away from the brass barrel that holds the weight and weight cord. I dismantled the movement (see photos) and removed the winding arbor and barrel assembly.

My dilemma was that this could not be repaired the same as it had been manufactured because the barrel was originally ‘staked’ to the winding arbor. Now, there was too much worn metal to restake it. In addition, some other repair person had done a poor job of soldering it previously and the repair had failed.

Morbier movement repaired and assembled

Morbier movement repaired and assembled

The solution was to manufacture a small brass bushing to slide over the steel arbor as a press fit, solder it flush to the barrel, and then solder the other end.

I used a 98% Tin 2% Silver solder with a melting point of 450 degrees. I do not have any machine tools to manufacture bushings. I made the bushing from a discarded ratchet wheel I had as a spare. All the fabrication was done with files and vice.

The repairs went as planned and the clock was rebuilt. It now runs fine. I will undertake a more thorough restoration of the movement at a later date.

French Morbier (Comtoise) Clock ca 1860

French Morbier (Comtoise) Clock. ca 1860.

This clock was a restoration, I have included before and after photos. I cleaned the movement and made some minor repairs.

Upon inspection, I noticed that the fly had been soldered to the fly pinion.

Before movement restoration

Before movement restoration

The fly must rotate on its shaft with only the drag produced by the fly spring. This is very important because if the fly does not spin when the strike cycle stops, the momentum created by the fly could shear off the gathering pallet. This was a fact that I learnt when working on this clock (thanks Jim!).

It is amazing, how one can miss the smallest details that could potentially have disastrous consequences if not tended to correctly. We unsoldered the fly from its shaft and replaced the fly spring after fabricating a new retaining washer. The clock was then reassembled.

Movement after restoration

Movement after restoration

Another problem was to figure out the synchronization of the strike train. We found that there was a timing marker on the second wheel that synced to the ‘long tooth’ on the gathering pallet pinion gear.

The final step was to fabricate the wood shelf that the clock now sits upon. I probably spent more hours on this clock than I have on any other…..It was worth all the work!

A French Morbier Grandfather clock

A French Morbier Grandfather clock.

A French Morbier Grandfather clock

A French Morbier Grandfather clock

This is one of my favorite clocks. I always wanted a Morbier clock in my collection. However, the cases that I saw on most Morbiers were so deteriorated that they were unreasonable. The solution was clear to me when I came upon this Dutch made clock.

This clock was made in Holland by a small company that manufactures handmade Morbier clocks. This one is not old…..Vintage at best. This was the perfect solution for me. I have a vintage clock with a solid oak case. The real appeal to me is the movement. It is like a miniature ‘tower clock’ movement,  over-engineered and as accurate as my jewelers regulator….I love it!

(September 30, 2009) The newer movement is almost identical in design to the early Morbiers.

This simple clock is a design classic in my opinion. I think of it as the VW of clocks, a clock for the people!