Turns Out There’s a Thriving Market for Vintage Ceramic Clocks

Great design rarely goes out of style

Clock gears
It's hard to predict what becomes a design classic.
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It’s not surprising that there’s a thriving secondary market in vintage watches — but they aren’t the only devices used to measure time for which that’s true. In a recent article for Curbed, Christopher Bonanos chronicled his own immersion in what he termed a “design-history wormhole” — the Bitossi ceramic clocks manufactured decades ago by Howard Miller.

It’s not hard to see what’s drawn Bonanos and others to these clocks. The combination of stylized ceramic patterns and elegant machinery creates a striking effect that emphasizes the craftsmanship involved in creating these clocks even as it eludes easy classification. The aesthetics are just one part of it, though; Bonanos writes that these particular clocks represent a moment “where several mid-century makers of real design significance all crossed paths,” including Aldo Londi, a ceramicist who worked for Bitossi for more than 50 years.

As Bonanos revealed, these ceramic clocks were worth the contemporary equivalent of $295 when they were first on the market. Buying one now will cost significantly more. One example sold at 1stDibs for $900; another, currently on sale at eBay, can be yours for $1,100.

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One person’s idea of memorable design won’t be universal, and it’s not hard to see why these clocks are beloved by some buyers and eschewed by others. That said, if you’re struck by Aldo Lossi’s ceramics work here, there’s an entire universe of ceramics that he had a hand in — some of which sells for significantly more than his work with Howard Miller. That includes a Lossi-designed vase from the 1950s, which is currently for sale for just under $5,000. Consider it another example of notable design that’s having its moment in time all over again.

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