How to Properly Wind Old Clocks With Keys


Old clocks do not run on batteries and require you to manually wind them with clock keys to keep the time and to chime on the half- and quarter-hours. Some old clocks need winding once a week while others require a daily winding. Choose a time each day or once a week to wind your clock to keep it running. Do not worry about over-winding your clock; the key will stop before that happens. Have your clock serviced if it fails to run once you wind it.

  • Insert the clock key into the opening on the old clock face. The left opening controls the strike on the half-hour, and the right opening controls the time. A third opening controls the strike on the quarter-hour if your clock has this opening.

  • Turn the key clockwise or counterclockwise. The key makes a clicking noise when turned in the correct direction.

  • Rotate the clock key slowly until it no longer turns. Insert the clock key into the additional openings on the clock face, turning it clockwise or counterclockwise until the clock is completely wound.

  • Move the minute and second hands on your old clock either clockwise or counterclockwise to set the time if your clock stopped before you could wind it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clock keys are not universal. You can purchase a clock key with several prongs that offer multiple gauge keys to fit your clock's winder.

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