Smiths F A Q

Smiths frequently asked questions

COPYRIGHT Barrie Smith 2005
Please do not steal any part of this publication and republish it on the Internet or in any other form.

Q "What does the SEC trademark on the movement of a smiths clock stand for"

Q "Some clocks in the Smiths range are marked "Smith" on the dial, whilst others are marked "SmithS". Can you explain this and is there a changeover date."

Q. "In catalogues and advertising brochures and on new clocks the hands are almost always set to 9:23:37. Do you know why this time was chosen?"

Q. " Why is my clock not listed in your book/photo gallery?"

Q. "Where can I get spare parts for Smiths Clocks or where can I send my clock for repair?"


Q. "What does the SEC trademark on the movement of a smiths clock stand for"


A. The formation of the company was announced during the Britsh Industries fair in 1931 and the report in HJ contained the words" Smiths English Clocks(SEC)".

An advertisement in the may 32 issue of HJ stated that 'SEC' meant made by 'Smiths electric clocks' but I believe this to be just a copywriters happy phrase.

From very early days Smiths used two almost identical trademarks with the letters "SEC". These are shown on the letterhead of Smiths English Clocks Ltd. which was in use in 1933 and is reproduced below.

33 lhead

sec1 One logo shows the letters SEC with an arrow like line through the centre and with the description "English Lever Drum Movements" beneath.

sec2

The second logo also shows the letters SEC but now with a zigzag and pointed line. The description below this logo is "Synchronous Clocks".

Another letterhead dated 1938 notes the SEC mark as a registered trade mark for Smiths English Clocks.


Q. "Some clocks in the Smiths range are marked "Smith" on the dial, whilst others are marked "SmithS". Can you explain this and is there a changeover date."

A In their early catalogues the company called itself "Smith's". The 1935 catalogue has two sections "Smith's" and "Smith-Empire".

In 1936 they started using "Smith" as the name and this continued in their advertising until 1942. I have a blank in my records until 1948, by which time they had started to use the name "Smiths". After that, "Smiths" was used consistently. There is no apparent precise date for the change and I think that the older signature remained in use until each particular model was discontinued.

The situation is complicated, as always with Smiths, because somebody dreamed up the trade name "Smith Alarms" and this was used as a logo on some alarms and pictorial clocks from roughly 1952 to 1955.


Q. "In catalogues and advertising brochures and on new clocks the hands are almost always set to 9:23:37. Do you know why this time was chosen?"

A. In 1948, Smiths management told George Strauss, then Minister of Supply, that the reason they set the clock hands to 9:23 was that "it is the best position to balance the appearance of the face of the clock for photography without concealing the trademarks".


Q. " Why is my clock not listed in your photo gallery?"

A. There are several reasons why your clock may not be listed.

1. I may not as yet have any data about that model.

I am totally dependent on people like yourself sending me details of any smiths clock for which you have a picture and know the model name and a date. Catalogues or reference lists are the obvious source if you have one. Please get in touch. I only need a photocopy or page scan on CD.

3. This whole page is a solo effort and mistakes are sure to exist. Please tell me when you find one. I may well have placed a clock in the wrong category for the search.

4.The wording "Smiths" on the movement or dial does not always indicate that the whole clock was produced or marketed by Smiths. They sold movements with dials to other persons to encase as they wished.

Then again they had some special arrangement with their two main dealers who often exhibited their own special ranges fitted with Smiths movements. None of these are in the catalogues and so are not generally in my list of Smiths clocks. I have included in the book some marketed by the dealers and sold under the "Tempora" name

Q. "Where can I get spare parts for Smiths Clocks or where can I send my clock for repair?"

A. Parts
I do not know of anybody who has any original spare parts for Smiths Clocks. When Smiths decided to stop making clocks in 1979 they simply closed down, making no provision for future repair needs.

One possible source, if the item has a high sentimental value, is eBay, because Smiths made clocks in unbelievably large numbers and there is a constant stream of these for sale on eBay, so that it may be possible to find one with a similar part in it. Be aware that whatever you buy will be as old, and potentially as worn, as the part you are replacing!

Repairs to Smiths handwound clocks.
I believe that most clock repairers nowadays will undertake repairs to handwound models, although in times gone by they tended to dismiss them as rubbish.

Repairs to Smiths Sectric models
These can be repaired here electric-clocks.co.uk

Repairs to Smiths Battery or Quartz clocks
Old battery and quartz clocks also present a repair problem because they often contain plastic parts and if these have failed then no replacements are available. Since such clocks have as yet little or no value to collectors the simple answer is to have a new movement fitted.

Modern quartz movements are readily available and sizes to suit most clocks can be obtained. All the movements now available are of foreign manufacture.



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