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Timepiece aficionados collect vintage or luxury alarm clocks for the same reason collectors prize other antique clocks; they are fascinating gadgets that can be a window to the past. Even with the use of the digital clocks and cell phones as alarm clocks, buyers still consider the stylish mechanical alarm clock or travel clock a fascinating piece of workmanship that will be functional and valuable for a long time to come.
Clock watches fitted with a device that struck the hour on a bell in the watch case became common by 1600. Queen Elizabeth I is rumored to have worn a watch as a ring that would scratch the skin on her finger at an established time. Royal courts often had their own clockmakers during this period. Charles I commissioned a gold alarm watch after he failed to awaken one morning. He kept by his bed until led to his execution.
The Art Deco movement was a large influence on clock design in the 20s. Geometric artifacts of the industrial age, both table and travel clocks came into vogue. The Parisian-based jeweler Cartier began making a variety of clocks including the well known and stylish travel alarm clocks with gold hands. In the modern market, collectors often follow alarm clocks made by luxury brands including Cartier, Tiffany, and Jaeger Le-Coultre.
A contemporary quartz Cartier alarm clock (circa 2000) enclosed in a leather case sold at auction for $1,128 at Bonham’s Hong Kong in 2012
A lot of two gilt desk alarm clocks sold at a price of $7,942 at Christie’s of London in 2014
A Simon Willard painted lighthouse clock with brass 8-day movement and alarm sold for $15,000 at Bonham’s New York in 2013