✽ For Wall Clocks Produced by Vitra
This is a courtesy guide for replacing the movement and/or hands on Vitra produced George Nelson WALL CLOCKS (your desk clock may require a few more steps that we do not cover here, but hope to support in the future). If this is not a task you can perform, it is a simple job for any reputable local clock repair shop—without the risks and expenses of shipping. Please DO NOT contact us to troubleshoot remotely. If you have a suggestion to improve our knowledgebase from your experience, please let us know.
View information for replacement movements
Use caution, you can damage irreplaceable parts of your clock. Any work you perform is at your own risk. Work on a soft surface that will not scratch or damage your clock. Read and pay close attention to each step when disassembling because you will be re-assembling.
Before any repair work, always remove the battery to stop your clock. It is easiest to press the battery in towards the spring / negative end and pull the positive end up at the angle shown.
Pry off the red second hand by grabbing the middle and lifting directly upward. It can be helpful using fingernails to get beneath it. If your clock does not have a second hand, skip this step.
Unscrew the nut that holds the minute hand in place. It unscrews counterclockwise. On clocks without a second hand, there is a closed nut that holds your minute hand in place; you will unscrew it counterclockwise.
NOTE: If the minute hand fell off or is loose, the nut may have come undone.
Lift the minute hand off by grabbing it near the shaft and pull upward. You may need to wiggle it gently side to side. It should come off easily. All minute hands attach the same way. Notice that the minute hand hole has two parallel sides and slides on the shaft in one position only.
IMPORTANT: If you see something stuck inside the minute hand, it is part of the old movement. There is no exception to this with Vitra clocks. The minute hand is always a flat sheet of metal. Compare the old movement to the new one and you'll see a metal tip on the new one that is absent on your old movement. This is what is stuck. With the bottom of the minute hand facing down, press firmly against a scratch resistant surface to pop it out or use pliers to dislodge. If you did not pay attention to the previous step, there also may be a closed nut holding it in place that you need to unscrew first.
Pry the hour hand off by grabbing it near the center and pull upward. You may need to wiggle it gently side to side. It will require more force than the minute hand. Note the bottom collar design on the hour hand in the photo of it removed. All hour hands insert into the movement the same way.
Remove the 2 screws holding the back cover plate with a Phillips #2 screwdriver. Set the plate and screws aside. Mark with a piece of tape or pencil where the bottom of the movement is oriented before removing it. This will help you align the new movement correctly.
CAREFULLY remove the fixing nut. The fixing nut attaches the movement to your clock. You may use a flathead screwdriver but use caution as it is easy to slip and damage the face of your clock. Shown is the spanner wrench (A) or fixing nut key (B) we ship with our replacement movements designed specifically for this task. When removing the nut, press down into the slot and turn the nut counter-clockwise to loosen. As soon as it is loose enough, hand-loosen remainder until the movement comes off. You may need to hold the movement in place to keep it from spinning with the nut.
NOTE: Cover the surface with a scratch resistant material (tyvek, cardboard, etc) to be extra cautious.
Remove the spacer washers from the old movement and place on the new movement. Unless there is damage to a washer, it is best to reuse them since they create the correct thickness padding. Only replace if necessary.
With the washers in place, slide the new movement into the clock. The battery opening must be positioned so that you can easily change the battery and access the green disc once the back place is reinstalled. Check by placing the back plate on, but do not reattach it yet.
Starting by hand-tightening clockwise, attach the movement to the clock with the fixing nut. Be mindful that the battery compartment remains in the correct position on the back as it may rotate with your turns. You may use one hand to tighten, and one hand to hold the movement in place from the back.
Use the screwdriver or spanner wrench to tighten rest of the way until the movement is firmly in place; do not overtighten. Again, use extreme caution not to slip and scratch the front of the clock.
Screw the rear plate back in place. Make sure you can still access the battery compartment and green dial. If not, loosen the fixing nut enough to rotate the movement accordingly, and re-tighten.
You will now synchronize the hour and minute hands. Carefully press the minute hand in place. Remember, the minute hand hole has two flat sides and only aligns and slides onto the movement shaft in one position. Once it drops in place, turn the green dial until the minute hand is pointing to 12. Remove the minute hand; be careful not to rotate the hand or dial from the 12 position.
TIP: It may be difficult to tell which is the 12 position from the front. Look at the back of your clock and find the wall mount hole. The 12 position clock segment aligns with this hole.
Carefully slide the hour hand onto the shaft pointing it to the 12 position. Remember the flat side faces up. Apply gentle downward pressure until the hour hand is completely inserted into the movment shaft. Do not press further once it is firmly in place.
Re-insert the minute hand onto the shaft the same as Step 12. Both the hour and minute hands should be pointing to the 12 position. If they are not, remove both hands and repeat steps 12-13.
Screw the open nut (or closed nut if no second hand) on clockwise to hold the minute hand in place. It needs to be on tight or else it may gradually work its way off and disappear. It also is possible to overtighten so the minute hand does not move freely enough. We recommend starting tight, and loosening it later if needed. If you find your clock running slow a minute or so per day (and the battery is new and the hands aren't touching), the nut may need to be tighter or loosened. Observe the minute hand around the 11 to 1 positions and 5 to 7 positions. If it is on too tightly, the minute hand may stick around 12 position; if this is the case, loosen the nut counterclockwise a quarter turn. If it is on too loose, the minute hand may slip momentarily around the 6 position; tighten it a clockwise a quarter turn.
For models with a second hand: re-install the second hand by pressing it down into the center of the shaft.
Rotate the green dial clockwise to make sure the hands are clearing each other at all points on your clock. Inspect this at an angle. You may need to slightly bend the minute hand slightly upwards on both ends to for it to clear the hour hand and the second hand slightly upwards to clear the minute hand. Both hands are bendable for this reason. If the hands touch at any point, it will cause your clock to run slow.
Insert a new AA battery. We recommend Energizer Ultimate Lithium which are leakproof and should last x4 longer than alkaline (do not use a rechargeable version). We also like Duracell alkaline. Angle the battery in as shown, pressing into the negative end, and then press the positive side down. If you find your clock is running slow a few days later, replace the battery and check Step 17. If it still runs slow, check Step 15.
Replacement Quartz Movements
We sell German quartz movements for Vitra produced George Nelson clocks as a courtesy. We have a very limited number of Vitra produced replacement hands reserved for Clock Forward customers only. We apologize, but this is due to our very limited supply of replacement parts. Clock Forward does not service original electric George Nelson clocks, nor do we provide in-house repairs or guidance beyond this page.
* Our tutorial references expertise from Vitra's mechanism replacement guide and our experience. All images are property of Clock Forward.