The Chicago Clock Company Preview – Join the 100-Year Celebration

Curious about a company that has been owned by the same family for the 100 years of its existence, I visited the Palatine branch of the Chicago Clock Company.  Stepping inside, there were surprises everywhere. Clocks of every size, shape and description- who knew there were so many different kinds of clocks that do so many different things?

 

Outside

The week after Mother’s Day, Chicago Clock Company is inviting the public to a 100-year birthday celebration. If you rsvp and attend, you may be the winner of a Grandfather clock, and there are lots of other goodies, too.

  

Invitation-rsvp to [email protected]

It is interesting to note that even though many people no longer wear watches and depend on their cell phone for the time, while others use watches as phones, clocks never stop, they are always around and never stop working.  

 

Clocks, clocks everywhere

The Chicago Clock Company has a long and interesting history, which also intertwines with Chicago’s history. It begins in April of 1917, when Conrad Utecht, an enterprising young German, brought his old world profession to America.  Searching for the “American Dream,” he applied his skill at clock repair, selling his services door-to-door. His charming manner, coupled with his talent and skill, resulted in his building a successful clock repair shop from his home, and eventually opening a small store in downtown Chicago.

  

Large clocks are popular

 

Animals pop out and make their sounds

Clocks run in the family, as you will see.  The years passed and Conrad was married and had a daughter, Caroline. In 1936, Caroline married a young German baker, Ludwig Matthiesen, who, like his father-in-law, Ludwig developed a passion for clocks. Soon thereafter, he joined his father-in-law in the family business.

  

Clean, simple lines

 

A very happy music box customer

Caroline and Ludwig had three sons, two of whom (Andy and Louie) entered the family business when they were each 20 years old. With their help, and the dedication and expertise of their staff, the Chicago Clock Company continued to grow and thrive; opening several stores throughout the Chicagoland area and they are now located in Water Tower Place in Chicago, Palatine, Orland Park and Clarendon Hills.

  

Louie and and a wonderful Grandfather clock

 

Men's solar watch-no batteries

Andy and Louie continue to be involved in The Chicago Clock Company today but now Andy’s son, Jason, is serving as president. Jason joined the family business after graduating college in 1992, making the Chicago Clock Company a fourth generation family-owned and operated business. This is one of the oldest and most successful clock companies in the country.  

  

Jason recommends this alarm clock

Looking around the Palatine store, I was impressed with the range of items on display and, of course, for sale.  Talking with Jason, I learned many things. There are clocks from 200 manufacturers. Repair of clocks, watches, and music boxes keep 20 men and women busy.  Grandfather clock repair continues and service is offered to residents in Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as Illinois.  Grandfather clocks are very popular with 30 to 50 year olds who grew up with them. I was surprised at both the old look and the new look of these clocks.  About 1,000 of these clocks are sold each year while between 3,000 and 4,000 are repaired in a year.

  

Simple lines of a modern grandfather clock

Speaking with Louie, I learned a little of the behind the scenes operation. For example, the Chicago Clock Company can build parts needed to repair antique clocks. He also shared an amazing story about a clock from the Chicago Fire, which was just remarkable.

"Our family always called it "THE CHICAGO FIRE CLOCK". When our family knew of the coming of the fire, they buried this clock in the ground on their property. Just had a tiny bit of the finial sticking up. Then, they fled. They knew that when the fire was over, they would know their property again-by digging up the clock! So, that's what they did. The clock remained in our family for many years, until my Mom accidentally knocked it off of her TV and it went flying across the living room-ending on the floor in pieces. I never knew what to do with it after that, so just put the pieces in a box in Mom's basement. And there it sat-even through a flood in her basement. Someone suggested to me to bring the clock to The Chicago Clock Company and that they might be able to put it together again! I had never heard of that company, but thought it a good idea. So, back in November, 2016, I dropped off the clock-in pieces. I received a phone call in March, 2017, telling me the clock was done! Was I surprised! Even more so when I saw the actual clock. Thanks, Chicago Clock Company, for such a wonderful job of putting our family clock back together. It will now, once again, have a place of honor-this time, in my brothe~s home in WI. You did a GORGEOUS job of restoring our clock and our wonderful family treasure! Everyone at Chicago Clock Company, including Becky and Lou, really deserve our applause and thanks!"

  

Women's solar watch

Some of the clocks that especially caught my attention were some that ran on water instead of batteries, the solar watches, and the clock that come apart on the hour and go back together.  If you ever need to replace a watch battery, this company will check your battery and if you do need a new one, they can replace yours quickly for the charge of $10.00.

  

These clocks are powered by water

 

A clock whose face comes apart and goes back together

Photos: B.Keer

 

Chicago Clock Company website 

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