Gübelin Lucerne Mystery Clock, ca. 1900

Value (2012) | $5,500 Retail$6,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
I brought in a clock that I got at a community garage sale. I've always called it my sundial clock. I paid $15 for it.

APPRAISER:
And have you done any research on it or tried to find out... identify it at all?

GUEST:
I've gone on the Internet, and I put in "sundial clocks," I put in "marble clocks." I couldn't find anything on it.

APPRAISER:
How do you tell the time?

GUEST:
The little frog tells the time.

APPRAISER:
As the clock moves around.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
So what you would actually do is you'd wind this clock, and then inside this marble pedestal there's a clock mechanism. And the clock mechanism has a magnet that, underneath the frog, which has a little piece of iron, follows. And it will tell the time. These types of clocks are called mystery clocks. And the mystery is how does it actually work? Now, this clock isn't a sundial clock. This clock is a water clock. And in order for this clock to operate correctly, you would fill this interior surface with water.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh.

APPRAISER:
Originally, the time would have been indicated by a tortoise, and the tortoise would have to be made of cork so it could float on top of the water. And as the clock kept time, the tortoise would follow around the hour dial. And that has obviously been lost. But as a result, they replaced it with this little cute porcelain frog. It is really good quality. This particular one was retailed by Gübelin Lucerne. It's a Swiss maker, it's a very high end retail jeweler. And they probably sold this clock around 1900. It has a very high quality movement, it's a jeweled movement, and it's designed to run eight days on a wind. The case is marble. It's fitted with these brass appointments on the side here to hold it together. And the dial here is a dish that is solid silver.

GUEST:
Whoa.

APPRAISER:
And it has a gilt wash over it.

GUEST:
I thought it was brass. Oh, neat.

APPRAISER:
So we would put this back on again. It's designed to hold the water. And then the tortoise would float around in the interior. This clock, in its present condition-- and the frog is not such a big issue-- it would probably have a retail value of somewhere in the $5,500 price range to about $6,000.

GUEST:
Wow, that's great, woo. Now maybe my family won't be mad when I go to garage sales.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Delaney Antique Clocks
West Townsend, Massachusetts
Appraised value (2012)
$5,500 Retail$6,000 Retail
Event
Rapid City, SD (July 14, 2012)
Form
Clock
October 28, 2013: As viewers who are herpetologists could tell us, the original floating reptile used for this unusual clock is likely a turtle, not a tortoise. This is because tortoises are land-based animals, while turtles live in or near the water.

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