TWO names stand out among clockmakers who have inspired model engineers to build one or more clocks. First was Claude B Reeve who described building many amazing clocks and, second, John Wilding whose designs and clear how-to-build instructions have popularised clockmaking during recent decades. Few dedicated amateur clockmakers would have started with anything but a Wilding or Reeve design. Some seriously proficient model engineers have even started with Claude B Reeve’s highly complex Musical Clock which strikes, chimes, and plays a selection of tunes on its 19 bells.

The clock featured here is one which was first described by Claude Reeve and later re-worked by John Wilding, who clarified construction points for the builder and has combined his work and Claude’s in a book available from RiteTime Publishing. The book describes the clock as a ‘regulator’ but the clock does not have the thick plates of a regulator and although it should really be described as a ‘timepiece’, it does keep very good time.

The main photos show the clock built by Hywel Lambert, whose work will be familiar to visitors to the annual Bristol Model Engineering Exhibition. As will clearly be seen, the joy of this clock is in the fretworked brass plates. Hywel advises potential builders to buy fretsaw blades by the gross rather than dozen! We also include photos of the clocks of Claude Reeve and John Wilding.

Claude was an amateur horologist who made more than 40 complex clocks purely for his own enjoyment, but his work was equal to any professional. His output included a wide range of clocks from gravity regulators to year clocks to grand sonnerie carriage clocks, and in this case a skeleton longcase clock.

Inspiration for the clock was a single photo in a magazine of a clock made by R. N. Pickering of London. That clock is now at the headquarters of the British Horological Society in Newark. Claude Reeve added some new ideas and materials chosen from his experience as a dental technician, including the use of hard plastics (the build description includes the use of standard materials). Other innovations such as minutely adjustable pallet arms and adjustable bearings are included. The escapement is a Vulliamy dead-beat type incorporating the adjustable pallets. Claude made the pallets and bearing ‘jewels’ from dental plastic.

It is an eight-day clock with a seconds pendulum. Claude’s clock was built over a nine month period in 1929, including its magnificent walnut case. His own clock was fitted with a gridiron pendulum, but most are fitted with a standard pendulum. Hywel Lambert has fitted a carbon fibre rod. 

John Wilding housed his clock in a conventional regulator case. He describes his work on the clock by amplifying the original articles by Reeve to fill in gaps for the less-experienced.

Where are they now?

It is to be hoped that Hywel Lambert’s clock will be on show again at Bristol. The fretwork is a delight and it is a lovely clock to watch in action, as is his gravity regulator - another Reeve/Wilding design.

John Wilding and his wife decided to move to a smaller cottage in his village, and to sell all of his clocks at auction. Every single one was sold including his Reeve Ornate Regulator.

When Claude Reeve died, some work was being done at his house, including fitting a new garage door. Mrs Reeve, who hated clocks, told the door installer to take his pick of the clocks, rather than cash! He took the Musical Clock. That man had a good deal! Later a friend disposed of all of the remaining clocks.

Does anyone know of the whereabouts of any of them?

Claude B Reeve’s clock left. John Wilding’s clock above and below. Pictures at top of the page are of Hywel Lambert’s clock.