Back to Blog

United States Playing Card Company Clock & Tower

Pictures and drone flyover video of the clock tower of the old United States Playing Card Company factory in Norwood, Ohio have emerged on YouTube.

In this post you'll see pics of the clock tower's gravity driven mechanical movement that powers all 4 of the clock faces on the clock tower. The images are blurry as they are screenshots taken from a video provided by two urban explorers who posted their unscheduled urban excursion of the factory on YouTube.

You'll see a very nice drone flyover video of the clock tower as well as images of the Cincinnati Union Terminal Clock Movement for comparison.

Save The Clock Tower!

We are excited that the factory has been purchased and the clock tower is intended for restoration. The new owner of the factory is considering mixed use residential commercial space and intending to save the clock tower, the original factory, and the smoke stack. The rest of the structure being demolished. Designs & plans expected in 2021. (Link PayWall)

Drone Flyover of the Clock Tower

This drone footage video below found on YouTube One Take Tommy is a must see. Ariel video of the massive factory and office headquarters focusing magnificently on the clock tower on the Unites States Playing Card Company; this video is fantastic. Thank you One Take Tommy!

Please like this awesome video and consider subscribing to One Take Tommy's Youtube channel for this delight.



Urban Explorers Exploring (Climbing on) the Clock Tower Movement

Below is a screenshot of the video from a YouTube channel called TENZING showing a scene from when the characters explore the tower and the clock. They briefly show images of the weight driven mechanical movement powering the giant 4 clocks facing North, South, East, & West. Magnificent!

Parts are grainy but what interests me the most is the mechanism above the movement that splits the power and timing into four directions equally and accurately. Amazing that one movement can power 4 clock faces perfectly.

Complex Simplicity. Beautiful!



By 1900, The United States Playing Card Company moved from downtown, to a newly built factory in Norwood, then, an early suburb in the north-east part of Cincinnati. The four story bell tower was added at the main building entrance in 1926, and housed 12 carillon bells, which ranged from 1 1/2 feet to 5 1/2 feet.[LINK]

One weight driven all mechanical movement- ingenious hardware of functioning beauty keeping accurate time on 4 giant dials 15 feet away in every direction turning giant hands accurately to the second. Mind Blowing simplicity

A Clock Tower Tour

The video below shows two urban explores climbing in and around on a tour reserved for no one. Their shots of the clock mechanisms and the space that would have housed the Carillon bells is a sight worth seeing.

It would be great if there were official clock tours. If anyone has any information about this clock we would love to sign up for a tour!

In the video below that starts at minute:second 5:12, these kids urban exploring a factory that has been closed for years, wearing a camera on their chest, set off to explore the clock tower.

Especially watch at 6:05 when the minute hand rod is turned - watch the minute hands smooth motion as the hand turns on the outside of the glass with ease, they rotate half an hour and back from the turn of a wrist.

Again, we are elated that the clock tower is going to get preserved. Hopefully nothing happens to it ever.

Warning, turn your sound down. Loud sound to start Video.


The Tower Clock's Weight Driven Movement: Mind Blowing.

The quad mechanism of the movement is incredibly durable and precise yet stretches 15 feet at least, propped up on the other side by the wireframe of the clock glass and clock dial. A small pivot holding up the other end of a rod, the minute hand, attached securely and turning the large radius with the twists of the rod.

No grinding sound, no creaking, just exquisite.


The Cincinnati Watch Company has a great affinity for The United States Playing Card Company because this is where Gruen Watch Company leased space for their movement making machines from 1948 and possibly up until 1957, with certainty from between 1948 - 1950.

Making movements in the United States

Gruen made their own movements in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1948. And they did this in space leased from the United States Playing Card Company in Norwood, OH.

This is the 21 Jewel 335C Gruen movement Made in Cincinnati in 1948-1950 manufactured in the United States Playing Card Company Norwood factory. The movement would have then been driven the short distance to Time Hill in Walnut Hills where Gruen horologists would assemble and test the watch.


The The United States Playing Card Company Factory Clock is massive, on a massive building. In the early 20th Century the belief in what time it actually is, was often measured in part on the building the clock is on, the size, the distance it can be seen, the trust in the company who owned the building; in this case for at least the workers at the United States Playing Card Company, this clock was the clock you set your watch by!

In this case for at least the workers at this factory, this clock was the clock you set your watch by!


Here is the watch that came out of Gruen at Time Hill with the movement manufactured and assembled at the United States Playing Card Company in Norwood, Oh. A Cincinnati made movement, assembled in Cincinnati, and sold directly to jewelers..

The most Cincinnatian made watch in history.




Here, to finish your Clock Movement tour we leave you with one of Cincinnati's favorite clock movement, The Cincinnati Union Terminal clock movement being restored at Verdin. This is what the gravity driven mechanical movement looks like cleaned up and restored by Verdin Clock Company in Cincinnati.





© 2020 Cincinnati Watch Company. All Rights Reserved. Web: The Langley Group