I do not mean marriage in the traditional sense. In the clock world a marriage is defined as a bringing together of parts to make a complete functioning clock. Among clock circles it is generally accepted that if a clock has significant parts from another source, such as a movement, pendulum, weights, put into a different though correct case it is considered a marriage.

GB 2 weight
Gustav Becker 2-weight regulator

If it has a large number of parts from a variety of sources, even parts not original to the period or correct to the clock it might be considered something else. See my previous post for a discussion on Frankenclocks.

I am in a bit of a quandary.

I have written a number of blog posts concerning a Gustav Becker two-weight regulator clock that I bought in February. I am fascinated by what I have learned about this clock but the journey has been both enlightening and frustrating as I attempt to get it to run reliably.

I purchased it as a project clock and knew that I would have to source parts that were missing from the movement which the seller disclosed at the time of sale. I decided to buy another GB movement. About a month after I bought the clock my search on EBay bore fruit. The movement I found (from Poland!) was a Braunau movement which is the same factory but newer by 16 years (1902 versus 1918). It was an excellent fit for my clock project since up to 90% of the parts are interchangeable and the price was very reasonable.

RS Hands from Poland (3)
Clock face with replacement VR hands

My intent was to part out the 1918 movement to supply the 1902 movement with the parts I needed such as two springs, a snail / star wheel, hammer assembly and gathering pallet. While I took what I could from the 1918 movement to get the original movement running I had mixed success. It ran well for a while and then it would stop and lock up for no apparent reason. It stopped several times. Each time I took it apart, inspected the parts I thought might be problematic but found nothing amiss. After I dis-assembled, cleaned and oiled the movement each time I had it out, I returned the movement to it’s case and the clock would run for a while, a couple of weeks, a couple of days, hours perhaps before it would just stop abruptly. I am sure that if I investigated further I would find a slightly bent pivot, worn pinion or problematic gear tooth somewhere. Now for plan B.

Weights for clock
Weights for Regulator clock

I thought, well I do have the 1918 movement, why not switch them and see what happens. I returned all the parts such as star wheel / snail, springs, hammer assembly etc. from the 1902 movement to the 1918 movement and hoped that the 1918 movement once installed in the case would run and run well. I was initially concerned that the newer movement, a P27 requiring what I thought was a longer pendulum would not fit the case case but it seems to be sized perfectly. It is a mystery to me how pendulums are measured. The movement has now been in the case for the last fourteen days and it is not only running well but keeping excellent time.

The question remains, should I leave the 1918 movement in the case since it is now running well? Although it is the “correct” movement though not the original one, could the clock now be considered a “marriage”? The answer is, yes!

If I were to sell the clock I would disclose that the movement is not original to the case which would certainly affect its overall value. I could make the deal more attractive by providing the original movement as part of the sale considering that it is repairable, if I sold it!  These situations occur quite often in the world of EBay et al when the clock seller chooses not to give too much detail in their description of the item when they know some parts are not original. Furthermore, from a buyers perspective there is no guarantee that the clock they are looking at is 100% original.

GB clock
Gustav Becker clock occupying a prominent location in the living room

This is my first marriage. Would I do it again? If faced with similar circumstances in the future I would probably do the same thing but it has also taught me to be cautious with any potential clock purchase by asking key questions prior to any decision.

Of  course this clock is not for sale. I think the clock looks outstanding on my living room wall.

Let me know if you have you performed any marriages or if you think it is an ethical practice?

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