Mid Century Modern

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George Nelson Clocks

When you think of mid century modern clocks, what comes to your mind? George Nelson clocks? I am a big fan of George Nelson clocks – they are unique, colorful, and aesthetic. All I knew was that they were designed by George Nelson (duh…), originally manufactured by Howard Miller and reintroduced by Vitra in the 1990s. My first George Nelson clock was multi-colored Sunburst Clock by Vitra. I recently acquired two more clocks (white Ball Clock and Block Clock, both by Vitra) – I thought it was about time to investigate their history a little further.

George Nelson Block Clock by Vitra

The very first clock created by George Nelson (with collaboration of other designers, aka “George Nelson Associates”) was “Clock 4755” (Ball Clock) for Howard Miller Clock Company in 1947. Howard Miller Clock Company was established in 1926 by Howard C. Miller in Zeeland, Michigan. The company focused on manufacturing chiming wall and mantel clocks in the early years. During the 1940s and 1950s, the company ventured into more aesthetic designs to incorporate postwar modernism trend. The company then reverted to more traditional designs like grandfather clocks in the 1960s and eventually became known as the largest grandfather clock manufacturer in the world.

Howard Miller George Nelson Clock Ad

George Nelson Associates designed approximately 150 clocks for Howard Miller. They were simply identified by model numbers such as “Clock 4755” (Ball Clock), “Clock 2238” (Eye Clock), “Clock 2202” (Sunburst Clock) and so forth. There were different color options available for most designs. All clocks were powered by electricity. George Nelson Associates design clocks are no longer in production by Howard Miller, except one: “625-333 Ball Clock,” adaptation of a classic Ball Clock. The 625-333 Ball Clock is slightly bigger (14” diameter) than the original Ball Clock (13” diameter). The 625-33 Ball Clock only comes in one color, brushed nickel center and 12 black satin balls on nickel finished rods.

625-333 Ball Clock

Many of the designs of George Nelson clocks (licensed reproductions) are currently available through Vitra. Headquartered in Switzerland, Vitra manufactures furniture and home accessories designed by iconic mid century modern designers such as Charles & Ray Eames and George Nelson. If you are looking for a vintage George Nelson clock, check online auction such as eBay or online market place/classifieds such as Lushpad or Craigslist. If you are lucky, you may find one at an estate sale, a yard sale, etc. George Nelson Vitra Clocks are widely available at many retailers. There are many knock-offs out there as well, so be aware!

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “George Nelson Clocks”

  1. PETER ROSENon 28 May 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I have an early 1950’s Howard Miller/George Nelson 4655 Ball Clock. I would like to replace the mechanism with a battery-operated one, and replace the hands if possible. Can you recommend where I can get these parts?

  2. Perry Lonzelloon 26 Nov 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I have a Vintage Howard Miller Ball Clock key wind#4755/ 14″, I am missing two of the black balls and brass rods ( 4 1/2″ ) Can these be found? ty

  3. adminon 27 Nov 2014 at 7:22 am

    I see parts on eBay every once in a while – so you might want to check there.

  4. Richard Ferraron 26 Apr 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I have a 30″ George Nelson Sunburst Wall Clock. It seems to be a very rare bird as I can’t find any reference to one of this size on the internet. It is in need of major repairs including replication of 4 of the rays. Or replacement IF I could find someone with replacement parts. Do you know of this size clock? Or a competent repairer of these clocks? I’ve searched and can find nothing. Thank you for any assistance you may offer.
    Richard Ferrar

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