Regulator Clock

‘Regulator’ is a general term used for a clock against which other clocks were regulated. It came to mean an accurate clock.

A true regulator would not have striking work or chiming, because a certain amount of interference between the going of the clock and the striking or chiming would interfere with the time keeping. Every effort went into the timekeeping element of the clock, and all unnecessary interferences were eliminated.

Regulators can take almost any form. They are sometimes Longcases, but more often are Vienna regulators.Vienna regulator clock

The regulator in the picture is in the category of Vienna regulators. In the 19th Century it became increasingly necessary for railway offices and commercial offices to have a good timekeeper. Vienna regulators were made in large numbers to satisfy this demand. Where a Vienna has a seconds hand it often completes a revolution in 45 seconds; it is only there to indicate the clock is running.

A watchmaker’s regulator is another type of regulator. It was used by watch and clockmakers and is quite unlike any domestic clock. The only feature it shares with the Vienna regulator is the deadbeat escapement. Otherwise, it has:

  • Jewelled escapement
  • High train count, i.e. pinions with large numbers of leaves
  • Counterbalanced hands. Only the minute hand was in the centre of the dial. The hour hand was in a subsidiary dial below the minute hand. The seconds hand was similarly positioned above the minute hand.
  • Temperature compensated pendulum. The use of mercury in a pendulum jar to achieve good time-keeping with varying air temperature was introduced by George Graham in about 1725. After the invention of Invar in 1890, this was used instead in the form of a pendulum rod. Invar is a nickel-steel alloy (35.6% nickel) with an extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion.
  • Light going weight (5lbs).

The timekeeping of a Vienna is typically about five seconds a day whereas the timekeeping of a watchmakers regulator would be nearer a few seconds a month.