Smiths movements

Information about Smiths Clock Movements

Revised September 2006 BRS

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


The Type 1 Movement  type 1

At the time when the company started in 1931, the merits of non self starting versus self starting motors were much discussed. The range Smiths offered used a non self starting motor. These motors were almost all fitted with a telltale. The motor was of substantial size and had a bakelite case approx 3.6 inches diameter. Case and motor were integral with a main bearing fitted to the case.

Identification tips for the Type 1:

telltale type 1 A telltale window is usually fitted and this was always below the dial centre. It took the form of a disc partly visible through an aperture in the dial which showed alternate black and white sectors each representing 20 seconds (and sometimes so marked)

The rear view shows the combined starting and handset brass knob near the 12 o'clock position and, lower down, two fixed projecting pins project to mate with a female connector fitted to the ac supply cable.

The "De Luxe" movement  De Luxe

An improved version of the type 1, probably introduced circa 1933.
It had a case which was separate from the movement and another big improvement was that worm drive gears were used.

The De Luxe was produced in a variety of types, the main division being between heavy duty, for larger clocks including external clocks, and light duty for wall clocks and some mantel clocks. A self start version was made in 1934 (reviewed wcm Mar 34). One of the self start versions was in use until around 1955.

The case is the same size as the type 1 but is found with several minor variations.

The special connector used for both the type 1 and the De Luxe can be seen at the bottom of the picture. Be warned, there are no replacement connectors on the market.

Identification tips for the De Luxe:

telltale type 2 A tell tale window was often fitted. This was a small aperture, usually above the dial centre in which could be seen a moving wiggly line. The line was either a line painted on the rim of a wheel attached to the worm gear arbor, or a specially shaped wheel with the edge distorted to something resembling a sine wave shape. The wheel rotates at right angles to the dial so the edge passes the window.

The self start version was fitted with an indicator which showed a red signal in a dial aperture if there had been a current failure.

From the rear the two identification features are the combined handset and starting knob, in bakelite for this movement, which is situated close to the connector, and the connector itself, which is able to swivel a little for convenience in assembly.

The Bijou movement  Bijou

The third type of movement, known as the Bijou, is smaller than the first two. There was a detailed descriptive article in the November issue of Watch and Clock Magazine in 1936.

It was produced in several styles shown below.

Since production of clocks was severely curtailed by the 1939-1945 war, I think it probable that the production of the type I and Type 2 movements ceased and that such electric clocks as were made were fitted with the Bijou movement.

bijou  bijou  bijou

bijou bijou

The Bijou was a very successful design and became the workhorse of Smiths electric clocks and remained in use until around the late 50s. It was reviewed in 1936 (wcm Nov 36) and was considered worthy of re-examination in 1956(HJ Apl 56).

It was so built that the time setting knob could be at the rear or at the bottom of the movement and though basically not self starting a variation was developed able to self start.

The non self starting units could have either a telltale or a seconds hand. The telltale was normally above the hand shafts unless the motor was mounted in an inverted position.

The QAT movement.  QAT

This was developed circa 1953, and was a version of a motor used in alarm clocks called the QA with the alarm mechanism omitted. It did not have a telltale window but a seconds hand was sometimes fitted.

Unlike other Sectric movements, the QAT uses an open rotor type movement embodying a non-magnetic rotor working in a magnetic field.

Note : HJ june 1953 has an article on intro of a new alarm movement, the "New Callboy" and Smiths "Repair guide" has a page on the new callboy which states that the QAT for wall and mantel clocks is basically same design as the new callboy but without the alarm mech.

The QEMG movement.  QEMG

This was introduced in 1957 Reference: article in HJ. and was intended as a replacement for the Bijou. One very noticable feature is that the motor has plates of resin bonded fabric .

The QGEM movement.  Bijou

This was introduced in 1963. It is yet another attempt to produce cheaper movements by the use of plastic precision mouldings.

Despite Smiths hopes or boasts at the time they were introduced, the increasing use of plastic parts was not successful in the longer term as small parts tended to become brittle. Clocks fitted with the later motor designs using plastic gears etc are virtually unrepairable now because replacement motors and parts are no longer available.

General comment about the use of current motor units in older models.

It seems likely that usually, though maybe not always, Smiths continued to fit the movement originally fitted to any particular model even after a later movement became available. Among other evidence of this, there is a picture of a mantel clock fitted with a type I movement which has a presentation plate attached dated 1938.

On the other hand, it is probable that Smiths would update a movement if asked as they had cases available for the BM7, Bijou and QAT movements of a size to fit the opening intended for a type I movement


This was the term often used by Smiths for movements powered by springs or weights.

The 1933 catalogue shows 3 types of movement.  types A B C

 type A Type A, as fitted, looks like this, and has a cover to the circular case opening.

Unfortunately Smiths seldom identify later movements, merely indicating "30 hour" or "8 day". The movements used were improved and altered as time went on.

Perhaps the most significant improvement was the redesign of the striking mantel clock movements, to make them shallower so that the clocks would fit on the modern "tiled slab" mantelpieces which were then in vogue.

Even where a type number is known I have found it impossible to link this to a date.

Here are four pages which show examples of movements in use circa 1955.

Examples 1.
Examples 2.
Examples 3.
Examples 4.

Smiths did market two major innovations in hand-wound clocks:

The Floating Balance movement

 float balance In 1956 Smiths offered clocks with the new "floating balance" movement invented by Hettich in Germany and licensed to Smiths.

In 1960 Smiths marketed a smaller version, built to their own design, which had an improved method of regulation allowing precise adjustment.

Recognition of Smiths floating balance clocks is not a problem as the cases are plainly marked.

More pictures of floating balance movements

The Tensator movement

 Tensator In 1970 Smiths introduced a range of six clocks using the Tensator movement in which a special spring provides constant torque and potentially better timekeeping.

I can find no reference to this movement in later catalogues and can only assume that this innovation was overshadowed by the new Battery clocks and the Quartz clocks which were beginning to appear in 1971 and which offered a higher standard of accuracy with no winding.


Sectronic Mark I

 Sectronic Mk I cover

External appearance varies as shown by this picture and the one below, both being of a MkI

 sectronic Mk I capsule Transparent capsule marked Smiths Industries Ltd, Clock & Watch Division

More pictures of the Sectronic Mark I movement

Sectronic Mark II

 Sectronic Mk II

It was most uncommon for Smiths to feature a movement in their advertising but they showed this Sectronic in 1969 and I believe this signalled the introduction of the mark II

 Sectronic Mk II

This line drawing shows the alignment of the coil in the Mark II

 Sectronic Mk II

A back view of an Mark II fitted to a case

 Sectronic Mk II

Mark II unit without its capsule or cover


The Smiths Mark IV

 Mark IV back view

A transistorised battery movement introduced in the 1973 catalogue as the "Mark IV"

 Mark IV


Later variant of the Mark IV

 Mark IV back view
This technical Information leaflet was issued after the 1977 change in the company name.

there are slight differences in the circuit board etc..but note that the Mark IV was also "jewelled".

The Tuning Fork movement

 Tuning Fork

Cover is marked "Smiths Industries Limited, Clock & Watch Division"

 Tuning Fork

This view is of the movement without the transparent cover. The U shaped tuning fork is prominent and the electronics can be seen at the bottom of the picture



The crystal and trimmer are discrete components suggesting that this is an early unit


This picture came from a Technical information leaflet and may be of later production as the trimmer is not seen and there are component differences


This shows the movement in a
"Louis" model.

The company name is given as Smiths Industries Limited Clock & Watch division so it was made before the change of name in 1977

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