The grandfather clock is making a return as a measure of status and taste. While most prized are antique pre-independence pieces or even new ones created for high-end stores, these chiming cabinet cases with long pendulums are now also available aplenty in Chinese replicas.
“If you want a piece to fit your budget, you can get it,’’ declares SK Prabhu, who keeps an eye out for these clocks in antique dealer circles. According to Prabhu, a clock qualifies as a ‘grandfather’ if it is at least six feet tall, has a long pendulum, winding mechanisms and comes with brass weights.
“It’s not just a style statement, it’s like the heartbeat of a house,” chimes in J Sasidhar, CEO and President, Mon Chateau, a high-end interior décor store in Bangalore. Mon Chateau sources Howard Miller grandfather clocks from the US at anything upwards of Rs 5 lakh. The US company, started in 1926, has acquired the reputation of being the world’s largest grandfather clock manufacturer, whose limited edition pieces are owned by royalty across the world. The wooden cabinets of these limited edition pieces were built using South American mahogany. It also has sweeter chimes coming from organ pipes rather than the usual metal strips striking against one another.
Sasidhar says he sells around 50 pieces a year. “It’s not a great number, but speaks volumes about it being a niche market of the super rich in India. Even first-time buyers treasure them,” he says.
According to Prabhu, old French, German and British grandfather clocks are available aplenty in Bangalore as it was once a British Cantonment with large bungalows. While antique clock frames can cost anything from Rs 1.25 lakh to Rs 2 lakh, there are also replicas, made in Kerala by ingenious carpenters, which can be bought for around Rs 45,000. “Nowadays, with living quarters shrinking, only those with large residences display such clocks,” Prabhu believes.
Joy George, a Bangalorean who has a fascination for winding clocks, says he loves grandfather clocks for their old world charm. “I have three at home. Soon, I will run out of space,” he jokes. “It’s priceless to have one.”