Best Grandfather Clocks For Your Home In 2020This post contains affiliate links; if you buy something we get a small commission at no extra cost to you
A longcase grandfather clock looks fantastic in any home. These are incredibly valuable pieces of furniture and they help set the tone of the room.
But with so many features, finishes, sizes and styles, it can be confusing to even get started looking. And that’s why I’ve organized this guide.
I’ve cataloged the best grandfather clocks for your home organized by the most important features. In this post I’ll cover the pros & cons of each model, what you need to consider before buying, and how to maintain your clock in tip-top shape for decades to come.
Table of Contents
- What To Look For
- Best Grandfather Clocks
What To Look For
Every grandfather clock is basically made the same way. Traditional clocks all have a pendulum which swings back & forth to keep the clock on time. It’ll automatically raise & lower weights based on internal gears that create chimes every hour.
Some longcase clocks also have smaller chimes that go off every 15 mins, and others can have different chimes for high noon or midnight.
But cheaper clocks usually have electric units for telling time. The pendulum is merely for show and the chimes are all digital(but still sound great!)
Most newer clocks also have a nighttime shut off option which is hugely important. Who wants to be woken up at 1 in the morning from their clock?
Thankfully the vast majority of these models all have options to shut off chiming during the nighttime hours.
However you will need to consider the height and footprint of each clock, along with the total weight. Are you trying to get this clock upstairs into the hallway? Or will it rest in your mud room? How much space do you have against the wall and how tall are your ceilings?
Find answers to these questions before making a purchase because the answers will help you whittle down your choices.
Most archaic clocks actually last a bit longer just from their materials. But finding an older clock is harder than buying new, plus older clocks do not have the auto-shutoff feature. This is why I recommend finding a new clock rather than antiquing for furniture(although you can if you’re willing to research).
Generally these are the top features to consider:
- Wood & finish
- Nighttime shut off
- Chime styles
Let’s take a peek at the best options to see the differences between each one.
Coaster Home Furnishings 900723
- Weight: 40 lbs
- Width: 20″
- Depth: 9″
- Height: 71.8″
- Power: Battery
The first thing I notice in this clock is the face and style. It uses roman numerals for the numbers along with a rounded clock design. This by default makes the clock feel less “royal” than most, meaning it can blend nicely with any home.
You get a traditional Westminster chime which only goes off at the top of each hour. This comes with a volume control which is perfect for smaller rooms.
The clock’s bottom apron sticks out on the sides more than the body. This means you’ll definitely want close to 2 feet worth of room to fit this baby against a wall or into the corner. But for the price the design is spectacular and it’s got a beautiful rich brown finish.
It says this clock is made of cherrywood but it does seem a touch darker. Either way it looks closely accurate to its photo and the setup process is a breeze(shouldn’t take more than 20-30 minutes with just one person).
This unit is powered by batteries so the pendulum is a decorative aesthetic. And since the clock is battery-operated you can control the volume and nighttime shutoff.
If you’re okay with a cheaper clock then this model by Coaster won’t disappoint. It is by no means a top-of-the-line unit but it can pass as one at a glance.
Howard Miller Nicea
- Weight: 90 lbs
- Width: 19.5″
- Depth: 11″
- Height: 75.5″
- Power: Chains
Here’s a longcase clock that actually comes with numbers of the face, yet still keeps the ornate design style in-tact. The Howard Miller Nicea grandfather clock sports a brilliant gold pendulum along with golden sheets in the corner spandrels of the clock face.
This is also one of the best modern clocks for a chain-driven chime meaning you don’t need any batteries. And it can even be serviced by a clocksmith or a professional horologist.
By default the chimes ring every 15 minutes with a longer Westminster chime every hour on the hour. But you can disable the quarter-hour chimes and even disable all chimes if you wish.
It comes with a cherry finish but can be special ordered with other hardwood veneer upon request. The face offers plenty of contrast making it easy to tell the time from any angle.
You might notice the very top of the face has a small moon dial for the moon phase. Sadly this is stationary and only for decoration. But the actual clock itself works brilliantly and you can gain easy access for servicing from the back, or get into the front through the lockable glass door.
All four legs at the base come with adjustable levelers making this model perfect for carpeted rooms. It can be a pain getting such a heavy clock(90 pounds!) aligned properly when you have uneven flooring.
I would’ve liked to see the finish a bit lighter on this model. In my opinion it clashes a tad with the gold, however I do like the alpha-numeric numerals and the weighted chime which typically last longer than battery-powered clocks.
Howard Miller 611-138 Princeton
- Weight: 72 lbs
- Width: 19″
- Depth: 11″
- Height: 77.2″
- Power: Battery
This quartz battery-operated clock requires no major setup, no manual winding, and very little assembly. The Howard Miller 611-138 Princeton is pricey but you get what you pay for.
Since this is a battery-powered clock you’ll need four C batteries which should power the clock for a year. The clock face uses base-10 Arabic numerals with the same golden spandrels from other Howard Miller clocks.
What’s interesting about this chime is that you can set more than the traditional Westminster tune. It actually comes with three different chimes:
- Ave Maria
- Bim Bam
All of which are fairly popular for grandfather clocks and you can change at the switch of a button. You also have full control over the volume and a custom automatic nighttime shut-off switch.
The weighted brass pendulum is added solely for decoration and does not have any gears for movement. But the chimes don’t sound robotic either, so for the price this really feels like an authentic experience.
There isn’t a whole lot of carving on the body or near the feet which keeps this design simple. But the head uses a swan neck pediment design along with an urn shape in the center as a finial.
Most of the attention goes to the wood & veneer itself, not so much in the carving.
The very back of the center column features an olive ash burl pattern which is wood that comes from a tree that has a slightly deformed area, making the wood pattern feel a bit scattered. If you like that style then it’ll blend nicely into any home.
Howard Miller manufacturers this clock right in the USA so if you’re from the country you might consider supporting their work.
Howard Miller 660-125 Urban III
- Weight: 127 lbs
- Width: 22″
- Depth: 14″
- Height: 78.5″
- Power: Kieninger movement
Undeniably the best all-black clock on the market is the Urban III by Howard Miller. This design uses the Kieninger cable-driven mechanical movements for the clock handles and the beautiful silver-nickel chimes.
The name “urban” feels incredibly accurate with this clock face using black rectangle shapes representing the hour markers. The hour and minute hands of the clock are plated in the same nickel as the pendulum and chimes, all of which shine against the crisp satin black finish.
No denying this is a pricy model but it comes with all the best features you’d expect from a Howard Miller. It uses German Kieninger for the anchor and weighted cable system. Each chime style has a disable feature which lets you turn off the quarter marker, the hour marker, and even all the chimes.
By default the Kieninger movement system has an automatic nighttime shut off which disables chimes from 10PM to 6 in the morning.
The biggest downside here is the weight. 128 lbs for a clock is pretty damn heavy, especially compared to other models which can weigh 50%-75% less. But it’s also one of the cleanest designs out there with a dark satin black finish.
If you prefer a modern touch to your living space then check out the Urban III. It’s one of the few non-archaic looking grandfather clocks that really push the boundaries of 21st century interior design.
And since this clock runs on the Kieninger movement system you can easily get it replaced if it ever breaks down. Most battery-operated clocks simply cost too much to fix but this one can last you a lifetime(or more) with proper upkeep.
Jenlea Dakota Cherry Wood
- Weight: 42 lbs
- Width: 20″
- Depth: 9″
- Height: 72″
- Power: Battery
With a solid mix of cherry wood and MDF this clock is one of the lightest in the entire list. Weighing only 42 lbs this clock measures about ⅓ the weight of a typical dining room table.
This Dakota Cherrywood grandfather clock stands 6 feet tall with only about ¾ foot depth from the wall. It features a vintage carving style with a cathedral pediment near the top. However the clock face can be a pain to see with the bright gold roman numerals.
I rarely find grandfather clocks with such brazen lack of contrast in the face, but this one is unfortunately a risk factor. If you prefer the gold design then you certainly won’t mind. Most of us can tell time just based on where the hour/minute hand are anyways.
Yet everything else about this clock feels very traditional and high-quality. It measures fairly small and it’s super light weight.
The clock is powered by battery including the hourly Westminster chime. This has an automatic shut off feature so it’ll automatically know when to disable chiming. However it does take quite a few batteries: three AA batteries along with two C batteries, none of which are included with the model.
If you’re OK working on a budget and don’t mind replacing batteries then this rich amber-colored clock might be perfect for your home or apartment.
Ridgeway Traditional Zeeland
- Weight: 138 lbs
- Width: 23″
- Depth: 18″
- Height: 85.5″
- Power: Cable movement
If you’re looking for a serious high-end option then the Ridgeway Traditional Zeeland clock is a gorgeous product. It relies on cables to power the clock, the chimes, and the fully-functioning moon dial which is pretty rare in modern clocks.
The hanging chime shells and the massive pendulum are all brass finished pieces and very large. They hang in front of a mirrored back with a clear glass front door(with lock).
It comes with traditional Westminster chimes that ring every quarter hour. You cannot adjust volume but you can setup auto-nighttime shutoff where the clock remains silenced from 10PM to 7:15 AM.
In the clock face you’ll find brass and bits of gold on the outskirts of the handles. The classic Arabic numeral system makes telling time a breeze and the numbers are dark enough to clearly contrast against the backdrop.
Plus the very top moon dial actually works, which is a spectacular addition to this modernized grandfather clock. The moon cycle is also powered by gears and cables where you can see the different moon phases as they move in & out.
One thing you need to consider about this model is the weight. It’s surprisingly thick measuring at least two feet wide and close to 1.5 feet deep. But it weighs almost 140 lbs which is definitely not easy to move without a couple people helping, or a dolly.
But Ridgeway is known for quality material and this clock basically comes with all the fixins. The chime tone is brilliant and the working moon phase dial is a really cool extra.
Howard Miller Diana
- Weight: 147 lbs
- Width: 27″
- Depth: 13.8″
- Height: 84″
- Power: Kieninger movement
On the higher end of Howard Miller’s clocks we have the 611-082 Diana clock which is perhaps one of the priciest models you can get. It comes equipped with the Kieninger movement system which operates battery-free and calculates nighttime hours for automatic shutoff.
But this unit also comes with a complementary brass Heirloom Nameplate which can be custom engraved with your name and any special date you wish. This clock is something worth passing down through the generations.
It features a brilliant Embassy Cherry finish that quickly catches the eye in the right light. The clock face uses crisp dark Arabic numerals with a crystal-cut center disk surrounded by an outer brass chapter ring backdrop behind the numerals.
Also the clock face is fully illuminated from behind which basks the clock cabinet in a brilliant glow and helps light up the room.
In the center of the pendulum you’ll find the same crystal-cut design with an ornate pattern. This shines brightly underneath the clock backlight and it’s framed in a brushed brass rim. The entire golden design really shines with a glow of affluence and royalty.
The chimes are set to go off every ¼ hour but can be configured and disabled based on your preferences.
And the base of the clock uses levelers for each of the four legs. This means you can adjust the height for uneven flooring to keep the clock steady and level no matter where it’s located.
It’s not a stretch to say this clock might break the bank. But if you’re looking for a unit that’ll stand the test of time you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Howard Miller Jonathan
- Weight: 80 lbs
- Width: 20″
- Depth: 11.2″
- Height: 82.5″
- Power: Kieninger movement
If you’re looking for a cheaper and lighter option compared to the Diana then check out the Howard Miller Jonathan. It’s just about the same height & width but it weighs almost 50% less with a very similar finish.
However while the wood carving is beautiful I have to say the pendulum design leaves a lot to be desired.
This clock also comes with a free brass Heirloom Nameplate which you can have custom engraved at no extra charge. Passing down a clock isn’t an easy task. But by getting a much cheaper and smaller clock you’ll have an easier time keeping it in the family.
I love the polished brass on this unit and the glass over the cabinet & clock face is crystal clear. However I really do not like the golden Arabic numerals which just seem too gaudy for my taste. They shine against the silver chapter ring backdrop so reading the time is never an issue.
But you really need to love this design if you go this route. It can feel flashy based on the ornate reeded columns and the thin swan neck pediment. Plus this doesn’t have any bottom apron so the pendulum just hangs straight down.
It does come with all the traditional Kieninger features including a brilliant Westminster chime which can be disabled at nighttime. The chime does not come with any volume control, but it’s not too loud in the first place so it shouldn’t come as an annoyance.
Chateau Grandfather Clock
- Weight: 90 lbs
- Width: 10.8″
- Depth: 19.2″
- Height: 76.5″
- Power: Kieninger movement
One more related Howard Miller clock you might look into is the 610-520 Chateau. Again this design feels similar to their other clocks but also has distinguishing features.
The first of which is the silver chapter ring set against dark black roman numerals. The entire face is adorned with gold in the corner spandrels and the center circle. All other brass elements look the same as related Howard Miller clocks, although for some reason this one looks a bit shorter.
The reeded design can feel a bit dense but it works nicely on this clock. The top urn-shaped finial has its own reed design including the pediments to the side.
Unfortunately the Chateau model does not come with a free brass heirloom plate. You can add one for an additional charge, but it’s really only worthwhile if you love this design and plan to keep it around for decades.
Also take a peek at the bottom and you’ll notice that it’s just one long platform. This means you don’t have room to raise or lower any legs for uneven flooring, making other models like the Diana a bit more appealing.
But you cannot go wrong with any Kieninger grandfather clock and the Howard Miller designs offer a beloved sense of antiquity merged with modern-day production quality.
Cheapest Budget Grandfather Clock
It’s no secret that quality grandfather clocks will cost a pretty penny. However you can still get battery-operated clocks that look amazing while saving some dough in the process.
If you’re on a budget looking for the cheapest clock that still has a quality build then look into the Coaster Home Furnishings 900723. It’s a very simple design with a rounded face and it can fit into pretty much any home.
I listed this earlier in the guide as it’s one of the best intro clocks for newbies. However it also has a very distinct design style with the rounded face, wooden body, and custom construction. You’ll need to keep this in mind if you’re going for a new clock and don’t know where to put it.
But this one is pretty darn light weighing just shy of 40 lbs. It shouldn’t take more than 15-30 minutes for assembly and moving it around is a breeze(relatively).
Note this is a battery-powered clock so the pendulum and hanging weights are solely for accent. They help “sell the look” without any of the heavy internals and moving parts.
Still you can pick this up for dirt cheap and keep it running on maybe a half dozens batteries per year. It’s an excellent clock for the price and the crisp design makes it an unbeatable budget item.
Buyer’s Guide: What You Need To Know
The setup process for any unit should be clearly spelled out in the clock’s manual. Getting the clock setup is never a huge deal, although heavier clocks(above 70-80 lbs) may require 2 or more people.
But proper maintenance also involves handling, moving, cleaning, and setting the clock so it’s placed securely and maintained to last.
Placement & Setup
You should always place your grandfather clock against a secure wall or in the corner of a room. It needs to be on a very sturdy floor where the ground doesn’t shake too often.
If you live near an airport, train track, or on a street with lots of heavy trucks, you may get some shaking in your chimes/pendulum. This excess movement can deteriorate the weights and the joints which can cause damage over time. So the sturdier the position, the longer you’ll get out of the clock.
You might even use a measuring ruler to check the evenness of the floor. You can get away with a slight tilt front-to-back so the clock is pressing against the wall, but tilting forward is a huge no-no.
To set the clock you can wind the minute hand manually, but try to avoid moving the hour hand unless specified otherwise. Always wash your hands before touching the dials or opening the case to avoid oils, grease, or anything else building up behind the glass.
Some clocks also come with a volume setting and an automated quiet switch for “night mode”. These switches are typically located in the back either behind the face or near the side.
And if you ever plan to move the clock be sure to remove the weights if possible. You can use a dolly to roll it around, but having the weights leaning to one side may cause distortions in the pulley/cable system(only for mechanical clocks).
Avoid opening the glass to clean inside the case too often. This may be done rarely but it shouldn’t be needed very often considering the clock should be closed most of the time.
You should maintain a dusting regimen maybe once a week or once a month(depending on your house). This mostly focuses on dusting the exterior of the clock, but you can dust inside the clock face if it’s dirty.
Be careful using cloth on the hands of the clock because it can catch & tear leaving residue, or it can pull the hands up & out in the wrong direction. Any pressure or bending against the hour/minute hands can be detrimental in the long run.
It’s perfectly fine to use glass cleaner on the glass wiped with a damp towel or washcloth. You may also use this on the outskirts of the face between the hands as long as you’re extra careful.
But generally speaking you won’t need to clean inside the case very often(if at all) and wiping the exterior should keep your clock in pristine shape for years to come.
Battery-Powered Clock Maintenance
Most mechanical clocks have a winding key for adjusting the weights and resetting the internal clock. However battery controlled longcase clocks do not have this mechanism.
Instead you’ll usually need to remove the back casing behind the clock face and adjust the clock digitally. The exact steps differ between manufacturers and most clocks come with a setup manual. Be sure to skim that manual if you’re unsure of anything!
Quartz battery clocks are generally simpler to handle than mechanical clocks. You don’t need to clean or reset internals, nor do you need to worry about chimes becoming loose or weights being off-kilter.
However if your clock is running slow the first step is to check the batteries and replace them. If this still doesn’t work then you might need to re-adjust the hands on the clock face. Over time they may need to be manually toggled or lubed a bit, although this is rare.
Check out this FAQ page on battery-operated clocks to get a better idea of maintenance techniques.
And do not be afraid to call up your manufacturer if you’re ever unclear about directions.
The Wrap Up
If you’re looking for the all-around best grandfather clock for longevity, price, build, sound, and control, then the Howard Miller 611-138 Princeton is a sure bet.
It’s hand-crafted from materials and labor in the USA with a triple chime option of Westminster, Ave Maria, or Bim Bam. It also comes with a volume control and automatic nighttime shut-off for staying quiet while you sleep.
However this one is powered by batteries so it may not be as long-lasting compared to something like the Howard Miller Jonathan with the Kieninger movement cables & weights.
But each clock has its own unique style so take another look and see what fits best for you. Consider the height, weight, price, and power mechanism to whittle down your choices and make the decision process much easier.