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Grandfather Clocks vs. Grandmother Clocks: 4 Notable Differences

Many people ask, “What’s the difference between grandfather and grandmother clocks?” While grandfather and grandmother clocks are more similar than different, there are a few noteworthy differences between these two types of long case clocks that we’ll discuss in this article.

Similarities of Grandfather vs. Grandmother clocks

Grandfather and grandmother clocks are generally the same in that they both have a long case that houses a long pendulum that swings back and forth to keep the time. They also usually have 3 weights and need to be wound up about once a week to keep them operational. 

Grandfather and Grandmother clocks are both fitted with mechanical movements that chime on the hour and need to be wound up to keep them functioning.

Difference in the profile

While this is not always the case, grandmother clocks generally have a slimmer waist when compared to a grandfather clock. The crown and the base are often wider than the waist on a grandmother clock. 

grandmother clocks with slimmer waist

Difference in the movement

Because of the smaller size, a grandmother clock will sometimes have a slightly different mechanical movement when compared to a grandfather clock. The weights in a grandmother clock are more likely to be suspended from the movement using chains rather than cables and pulleys. 

A grandmother clock with a chain driven movement will be wound up by pulling on the chains to raise the weights over the wheels in the movement. This is in contrast to most grandfather clocks, which are usually wound up by inserting the winding key into the clock face and turning counterclockwise. 

In both cases, “winding up” a clock raises the weights so they can continue to fall and power the clock. 

Although they might have different movements, there is very little difference between the chime sound and the functionality of grandfather clocks and grandmother clocks.

grandmother clock movement

Difference in size

As was already alluded to, the main difference between grandfather clocks and grandmother clocks is the size. Grandfather clocks are often around 86” tall, while grandmother clocks are often found to be 76” or less.

grandmother clock size comparison

Difference in price

Because of the smaller size of the cabinet and the chain driven movement, the price of grandmother clocks is often slightly lower than the price of a grandfather clock. Custom grandmother clock prices are often in the $4,000 range, depending on the features and options chosen. 

When to buy a grandmother clock

A grandmother clock is an excellent option for the shopper that likes grandfather clocks but doesn’t have the space or the budget for such a large clock. Grandmother clocks are more easily moved from one place to another and have a smaller footprint.

Grandson/Granddaughter clocks

If the size of a grandmother clock is not small enough, there is also a smaller version of a grandmother clock available, which is sometimes called a granddaughter clock, or a grandson clock

These miniature grandfather clocks can be fitted with mechanical or battery movements. In both cases, the weights inside the cabinet of the miniature clock will be non-functional, as there is not enough room for the weights to fall. In the case of a mechanical movement, the movement is powered by springs, and so the need for weights is eliminated.

typical grandmother clock size comparison

Grandfather wall clocks

Another option that is similar in size to a grandson clock, is a grandfather wall clock. These clocks have a crown and face that is similar to a grandfather clock, but they are hung on the wall. This eliminates the need for floor space, while giving the user the enjoyment of having a clock with a swinging pendulum. 

grandfather wall clock vs grandmother clock


In conclusion, there are mechanical clock sizes and options available for almost any space limitation and budget. Grandmother clocks are an excellent choice for the shopper who doesn’t appreciate the large size of a grandfather clock.

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