28 December 2016

Architects' Holiday Greetings VI

Modern Florida Luxury Homes for sale - Tobias Kaiser, real estate broker

I cheated: Deezen who makes this card is actually a company selling greeting cards to architects and designers. But when in this card they lined up classic desk lamps (Arne Jacobsen?) like little birds on wires, I had to smile.

You too?

25 December 2016

Architects' Holiday Greetings V

Mid-century modern architecture for sale in Florida - Fachmakler für Klassische Moderne in Florida - Tobias Kaiser

Happy Christmas and Hannukah with architect Sprenger's (near Stuttgart/Germany) lovely model house – complete with snow, lighting and a Christmas tree (as well as ruler, pencil and xacto knife).

Made me smile, just like the next one coming up...

21 December 2016

Architects' Holiday Greetings IV

Modern Florida Holiday Greetings from Tobias Kaiser, Real Estate Broker and Modern Home Specialist

Undoubtedly an incredibly gifted architect, but who in Mr. Meyer's office is responsible for creating Holiday greetings? If you think the commission shown in this greeting card looks like a hotel: you're right.

Very subjectively of course but IMHO, the firm used better-themed project shots in prior years. So does this greeting make you feel the Holiday spirit? Me neither. – Next, I'll show you a different take on "greeting card with my own projects".

12 December 2016

Architects' Holiday Greetings II

Peter Platter of Platter-Architekt in Braunschweig/Germany (vielen Dank, Peter!) uses colour very nicely to separate snowman and Christmas tree (and the adults' sweaters!) from the wintery gray landscape showing a double shed-roofed modern home:

09 December 2016

Architects' Holiday Greetings: I

Holiday Greetings. How original.

During the month of December, instead of modern homes for sale I feature retro modern Holiday cards on my website http://www.ModernSouthFlorida.com. But somehow I thought I also ought to check what architects send.

Perhaps I'd better leave that subject alone? As gifted as many are in their fields, their marketing skills (or simply their greeting card choices?) are often not quite on par. You'll see later what I mean.

So until New Year, I'll show you a few examples, good and not quite so. Very subjectively, of course.

As an opener, here is the lovely and eye-catching card from eStudio vS based in Guanjuato/México.

Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!
Holiday Greetings from Florida modern home specialist and broker Tobias Kaiser
PS: If you are curious if I sit in the glasshouse, or what my office sends: for all of my client greetings including Christmas / New Years, I select a photo I shot myself. 
It makes at least me feel warm and fuzzy, having used something "hand crafted". – Yeah right.

28 October 2016

How will the 2016 Election affect the Housing Market?

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Whichever candidate wins the White House will have the power to shape the nation’s housing market and overall economy for years to come.

What you may not know is that presidential elections themselves can affect everything from mortgage rates and housing prices to stock market values and corporate investment.

A range of studies show that — during a typical election year — the uncertainty produced by the race can have more impact on housing and the economy than the actual outcome in November. Of course, the 2016 election is anything but “typical.”

Voters: “Two Flawed Candidates”

To start, both Clinton and Trump are viewed negatively by large swaths of Americans, according to numerous polls. This may prompt large numbers of voters to choose between “the lesser of two evils” instead of backing the candidate who most closely matches their views.

And though Trump’s anti-trade, anti-immigrant and inflammatory remarks about women, minorities and Muslims has won considerable support among white working-class voters, it has fractured the Republican Party.

Nobody “has ever seen a major party nominee put financial conditions on the United States defense of NATO allies, openly fight with the family of a fallen American soldier, or entice Russia to meddle in a United States presidential election by hacking his opponent” said the Times.

“And while coded appeals to racism or nationalism aren’t new … overt calls to temporarily bar Muslims from entry to the United States or questioning a federal judge’s impartiality based on his Mexican heritage are new.”

Thanks to statements like these, a number of Republicans officials have denounced Trump. Some have even pledged to vote for Clinton.

The result of both candidacies is that the two major parties have essentially switched places, with Republicans now polling better among blue-collar voters (once reliable Democrats), and Democrats doing better with college-educated professionals and many entrepreneurs.

Housing Market is Stronger than in 2012

Fortunately, the U.S. housing market is stronger than it was during the 2012 election, and so is the overall economy.

In November 2012, home sales were rising, but the market was still recovering from the economic downturn of 2008. By comparison, home sales through May 2016 have seen the biggest increase since 2007.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median value for new homes sold in June 2012 was $232,600. By June 2016, that figure had soared to $306,700.

In late 2012, 30-year mortgage rates were 3.34 percent and 15-year rates averaged 2.75 percent. Today, lenders are quoting 30-year rates near 3.25 percent and 15-year rates in the mid-2s.

Unemployment has plummeted from an average of 8.1 percent in 2012 to less than four percent today. In addition, consumer spending in the second quarter of 2016 rose by a whopping 4.2 percent, and retail sales jumped by 3.1 percent over the same period in 2015.

Elections = Uncertainty

Unfortunately, the main byproduct of presidential elections is uncertainty, especially elections in which an incumbent isn’t running.

As a rule, markets don’t like uncertainty — the uncertainty of who will win and (in Trump’s case) of what an inexperienced politician might do in office.

For this reason, business investment and stock markets often become sluggish – and industry can become almost paralyzed – during election years, particularly when the outcome is likely to affect regulation, taxation and trade policy.

Since 1833, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained an average of 10.4 percent in the year before a presidential election, but only six percent during the election year, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

Although Republican candidates are typically perceived as more “business friendly” than Democrats and, therefore, more friendly to Americans’ wallets, research indicates that a candidate’s party affiliation has very little impact on the stock markets.

“Wall Street is very powerful when it comes to the economy, and they don’t like change,” said Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist of Windermere Real Estate, “As such, they are always going to favor the more centrist candidate – in this case Secretary Clinton as opposed to Mr. Trump”.

“Markets don’t like uncertainty and … if Trump becomes president, I believe that there will be a massive injection of uncertainty into the markets, and that could negatively impact housing.”

The Effect on Home Prices

A presidential election’s effect on home prices is usually less pronounced than it is on stock values, but most experts say that home values rise more slowly during election years than off years.

A Movoto.com study of the California real estate market reveals that home prices usually rise 1.5 percent less during an election year than in the year before an election, and they rise 0.8 percent less than in the year after the election.

This seemingly small difference could cost homeowners thousands of dollars in lost value.

However, a recent study by the California Association of Realtors (CAR) disputes this conventional wisdom. The CAR study found no evidence that elections have a negative impact on home sales or prices. In fact, the study discovered that growth in home sales at the end of an election year — at least in California — actually outperforms non-election years by 7.1 percent.

The authors of the Movoto.com study speculate that election years may be stressful for many Americans, making them less likely to purchase high-ticket items — like houses. Because an election’s results can affect their personal finances, fewer home buyers are willing to take the plunge until the dust settles and the new President’s policies become known.

Realtytoday.com reports that it’s usually harder to sell homes during election years, so sellers may want to list their properties either the year before or the year after an election in order to receive the maximum value.

Above is a shortened version of the original piece b
y Pete Gerardo, a business writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times and numerous trade magazines, published on mymortgageinsider.com. 

In the next blog-post, I will look at the local housing market in SE Florida and any possible election effects.

21 October 2016


It's what we often overlook, or forget, or simply don't reflect about.

It's all owed to us, right? Health, roof, love, food, money, friends, job, success...

Two weeks ago I received a great reminder of not taking things for granted, as hurricane Matthew, scheduled to brush or even hit the Southeast Florida coast as a cat. 4 storm, decided last minute to pass us a bit further east.

Enough east to spare South Florida, but not poor Haiti or the northern Florida coast.

Excluding Matthew, I witnessed seven hurricanes, severe ones like Andrew and smaller ones like Irene where I went to the beach to shoot. For me as a layperson, a category 4-storm is not fun, to phrase it very mildly.

Seems to me that now is a very opportune time to be grateful for what we have.

Your thoughts?

The Modernist Angle - blog on modern architecture and unrelated topics by Tobias Kaiser
Sign "No Lifeguard on Duty" in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during Hurricane Irene. ©tckaiser

02 September 2016

Harvard makes massive Bauhaus collection available for free

Bauhaus Weimar, on http://www.TheModernistAngle.com by Tobias Kaiser

The historic German Bauhaus is considered the most influential school of art, design and architecture of the 20th century. The school, founded by architect Walter Gropius in Weimar/Germany but without an architecture department at the beginning, was active only a mere 14 years, from 1919 to 1933, when the Nazis forced its closure.

It is renowned for its faculty, which included not only architects such as Gropius, Ludwig Mies (who added the fictitious “van der Rohe” to his surname) and Marcel Breuer, but also artists like Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Johannes Itten.

When the Nazis came to power, they considered the Bauhaus a centre of communist intellectualism, and through constant harassment brought the then-leadership under Mies to shut the school down.

But by trying to silence "suspicious thinking", the Nazis accomplished exactly the opposite: many of the staff and students left Germany and spread the Bauhaus concepts and artistic ideas all over the world.

Gropius saw the writing on the wall early and fled to the US, together with his protegé Marcel Breuer, where they began to teach at Harvard.

With Gropius’ help, Harvard’s Busch-Reisinger museum started a massive collection containing over 30,000 Bauhaus-related objects, from paintings, textiles, and photographs to periodicals and class notes the collection now available for free. Incredibly, most any object from the collection can also be requested for in-person viewing in the museums’ Art Study Center.

The Harvard Bauhaus-site itself is tempting enough to get lost in time for several months: it contains “Chronology: Introducing the Bauhaus”, a section “Holdings: What Makes Up the Collection”, an essay “The Bauhaus and Harvard”, and a rich resources section.

Planning a visit to Boston? Well, now you may.

Photo: Mewes/https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=165180

19 August 2016

Miami's Luxury Housing Market: Headed for a Correction

Back in early 2006, when the mortgage crisis gained breathtaking speed and just as housing prices peaked before they dropped like a brick, I stared in disbelief at the very same headlines as during the ramp-up: "Now is a great time to buy!"


Miami-Florida homes prices 1987-2014 ©jparsons

When, at that time, every dachshound qualified for a mortgage and the end of the joyride was visible on the horizon?

Frustrated, I started compiling my own monthly statistics, including a "buyer-seller-disconnect"-index.

Over the years, that combo of monthly data plus my proprietary database of all things modern for sale between Jupiter and Miami, updated daily, became a bit like the canary in the coal mine.

Fast Forward to late summer 2015: for homes above $1.5mm or so, I started to see increasing marketing time, increasing price cuts and increasing listing withdrawals and expirations. It began ever so slightly to smell like trouble in the upper-priced market.

Well, this week the daily newsletter The Real Deal published the piece below, which imho is right on the money. But just because they are not mentioned, please do not believe Broward and Palm Beach counties will fare much better than Miami-Dade.

Miami’s luxury home sellers could face price cuts up to 20 percent - 
lofty prices have created a disconnect between buyers and sellers

“Market correction” is the phrase that has hung over the heads of many in Miami’s luxury real estate industry over the past year. The global economy, which has led to weakening demand amid rising prices and supply, has left those in the front lines wondering what’s next for the Magic City’s priciest addresses.

It was also the main point of discussion at a Tuesday morning talk hosted by analyst Anthony Graziano and ONE Sotheby’s International Realty President Daniel de la Vega, who met at Brickell City Centre’s sales gallery to share their second-quarter report on Miami’s luxury market.

Supply has begun to pile up. By Integra’s count, tallying prominent buildings in neighborhoods east of I-95, there were 14,804 condos for sale above $1 million by the end of this year’s second quarter. For single-family homes, 10,221 properties were actively listed in that price bracket.

Even so, luxury prices in most neighborhoods were still on the rise, while some saw values explode, according to the report. The largest jump in prices was for waterfront homes in Aventura, which had their average price per square foot rise year-over-year by nearly half to $503 per square foot.

Other neighborhoods showing resilience: Coconut Grove, where average prices for a waterfront home rose 22 percent to $1,064 per square foot, and Coral Gables, which saw its non-waterfront condos grow in value by 25 percent to $550 per square foot.

The takeaway from Miami’s disconnect between sales, supply and pricing, Graziano said, is that the market is facing a correction.

“The sellers have these lofty price expectations that can’t be met,” de la Vega said. That could lead to steep discounts from asking prices, by as much as 15 to 20 percent, both said.

“We’ll see over the next six to 12 months in the single-family market some retreats in pricing,” Graziano added.

De la Vega cautioned, however, that opportunists waiting for values to drop further than 30 percent would be out of luck. The global financial factors that depressed Miami’s luxury sector, like weak foreign currencies and stock market volatility, have begun to show signs of improvement, Graziano said.

He said the conclusion of this year’s U.S. presidential election — no matter who takes office — will also alleviate some hesitancy among high-net-worth individuals.

The uncertainty now is how a new president will affect issues like taxation and succession concerning real estate for foreign nationals.

As outlined by the most recent Knight Frank Wealth Report, which surveyed private bankers financial advisors, those issues topped the list of concerns for ultra-high-net-worth individuals at the beginning of this year.

Personal real estate is also not an investment they take lightly: the Knight Frank survey showed the ultra-rich typically stow 24 percent of their wealth in first or second homes.

However, many Latin American countries are still facing political and economic strife. Venezuela in particular has been hit harshly, with middle class families waiting in long lines for groceries amidst a food shortage.

“I suspect that it’s going to be lumpy for the remainder of 2016,” Graziano said.
via The Real Deal, published 16 Aug 16

22 July 2016

The Current Southeast Florida Housing Market

TriCounty annual SFH sales by month from 2011 to 2016. ©Kaiser Assoc, Inc
TriCounty annual SFH sales by month from 2011 to 2016. ©Kaiser Assoc, Inc

The second quarter of 2016 in SE Florida proved again that peak sales months for single family homes (SFH) are May and June. That is in contrast to what many people claim who believe snowbirds are the major sales drivers in Southeast Florida – but as the number show, certainly not for single family homes (SFH).

The number of sold homes reached 4,840 single family homes in June, from 17,918 available units in the TriCounty area which encompasses Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. That makes for an inventory of a measly 3.8 months (by real estate industry standards, 4 to 6 months is considered a balanced market; “inventory in months” means that at the current pace, all SFH would be sold in 3.8 months.) The timing factor in my opinion are school holidays – families want to move in time to be ready when school restarts in late summer.

Consequently, selling prices – not asking – went up by 7.0 percent from Q1 to Q2 in 2016, and 5.7 percent year over year.

Southeast Florida single family home inventory, list prices and selling prices, last 36 months. ©Kaiser Assoc, Inc
TriCounty SFH inventory, list prices and selling prices, last 36 months. ©Kaiser Assoc, Inc

Please let me use this opportunity to point out that asking prices mean practically nothing, unless you are a real estate pro. Don’t rely on asking prices, don’t look at them, and sure as hell don’t quote them – a common mistake a lot of non-real estate people make when they argue “my neighbor is getting $900,000”.

Wrong. Your neighbor is asking $900,000 for over a year without a single offer.

To further solidify the relative irrelevance of asking prices: the difference between what all sellers ask and what actual buyers pay currently hovers at 35%. That is one big "what's it worth"-opinion gap.

Also interesting to observe: the delta in demand between typical homes and luxury properties.

The market north of approx. $2m resembles an overcooked cold noodle. In contrast to “normal” owner-occupied homes under say $500,000 that nearly fly off the shelves, expensive homes currently do not sell well, resembling limp lettuce in the grocery store.

And even when they sell, it's only after a longish time on the market. To be specific: average time on the market averages 212 days for homes of $2m+ selling price, while the overall time on market for homes up to $500,000 lies at 67 days. Priced right, even 5 to 15 days is not uncommon.

We’ll have to see if our market returns to the pre-burst path of zero-or-weak growth. A presidential election sure doesn’t help, as anxious voters in both camps typically have other things on their mind than upgrading their lifestyles.

10 June 2016

It caught my eye: The Dorton arena in Raleigh, NC

On my way to a hardware store in Raleigh, literally by chance I discovered the Dorton arena.

But while it sat there patiently waiting for loving gaze (yeah right), I find it odd that during years of visits to the Triangle none of my local architecture-crazed friends and acquaintances has ever mentioned this interesting building:

The 25,000 sf/2,322 m2 structure, the brainchild of Polish architect Maciej Matthew Nowicki, then head of NCSU's Department of Architecture, boasts the world's first cable-supported roof system.

Sadly, Nowicki was killed in an airplane crash before the construction began, so local architect and friend William Henley Dietrick supervised the completion.

The building's innovative design features a steel-cable-supported saddle-shaped roof in tension, held up by parabolic concrete arches in compression. The arches cross about 20 feet above ground level and continue underground, where the ends of the arches are held together by more steel cables in tension.

Because of the innovative approach, the outer walls of the arena support nearly no weight at all, and the suspended roof eliminates any necessity for structural steel supports and presents no view obstructions from any seat.

Located on the grounds of the North Carolina State Fair, the arena with a seating capacity of just over 6,500 opened in 1952. Originally named the "State Fair Arena", it was dedicated to Dr. J. S. Dorton, former North Carolina State Fair manager, in 1961. The building made the National Register of Historic Places and the List of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks.

While Dietrick's rendering shown above calls it "Lifestock Judging Pavillion", the arena holds multiple types of events including music concerts during the state fair, and is currently the home base for the Carolina Rollergirls roller derby team. During a slightly more glamorous past, notables of the music scene such as Ray Charles (1962), Jethro Tull (1972), Lou Rawls (1967) and Prince (1982) played here.

Completely oblivious to all this background but recognising a gem with open doors, I snuck in and was able to take a few shots:

Good detailed info including nice b/w-photos from the construction phase are at ncstatefair.org

Have you been at the arena during a concert? How was it?

Photos: tckaiser; aerial shot via bing.com

22 April 2016

13 tips on how to boost your chances as a home buyer

If you've decided to buy a home this spring, good luck to you. Your challenge will be not just finding a home you like, but also beating out all the other homebuyers who like it and want to make an offer on it, too.

The number of homes for sale is low nationwide, particularly in the price ranges desired by first-time homebuyers. The latest figures from the National Association of Realtors show that that there was only a 4.4-month supply of homes for sale in February, which is lower than the six-month supply that indicates a balanced market. One-quarter of February's transactions were all-cash sales, according to the NAR, and investors bought 18 percent of the homes that were sold.

That means that if you want to end up with a nice home, you need to be strategic. Knowing what's most important to the sellers can be key to creating a winning offer. Here are 13 tips to help you get the house you want this spring:

1. Get your finances in order

When the inventory of homes for sale is low, you can be sure that other buyers are looking at the same house you are. At least two months before you intend to start looking, get copies of your credit reports to make sure you're in a financial position to buy. And unless you buy cash, shop for mortgage financing before you start looking. Many Realtors will not take buyers to showings unless they provide a pre-approval letter or proof of funds.

2. Know your priorities

Carefully analyze your requirements for a home. Write down what you want and need, and put the essential features at the top of the list. No home is perfect, and it's unrealistic to expect to find all the features you desire in one property. You'll have to compromise.

3. Commit to an experienced real estate agent

Find and commit to an active real estate professional who specializes in the area or the type of property you want to buy. Many sales today occur because the agent brings buyers and sellers together on unlisted homes or those which just hit the market.

4. Don't make snap judgments based on listing photos

A house that doesn't look appealing in photos could still be a great house. Estate sale or homes with tenants inside often yield particularly poor photos. Plus, photos fail to convey the feeling of a home or the floor plan.

5. Do some homework yourself

Browse sources such as realtor.com and local real estate listing sites. Set up alerts for the neighborhoods and characteristics you’re looking for. Drive through your target neighborhoods. If you see a home for sale you like, send the address to your agent, who can schedule a showing for you.

6. Stay in close contact with your real estate agent, and be ready to move quickly

Your agent will be on the lookout for the newest listings that meet your criteria. Be ready to see a house as soon as it goes on the market — if it’s a great home, it will go fast. That often means rushing out to see new homes within hours of them being listed and writing up an offer immediately if you like the house.

7. Review your priorities from time to time

If you can't find the right home in 30 to 60 days, take another look at your priority list. You may have to consider different ideas. Buyers who are willing to look at homes in a different location or make cosmetic improvements increase their odds of buying a home in a tight market.

8. When you find “It”

A well-priced property in good condition will draw many interested buyers the first few days on the market. So, when you find the right home, sign an offer right away. If you have to think about it overnight, you may as well forget about it. Out-of-town buyers, or those who have to travel, are at a real disadvantage. They take the chance of missing out on the right home every time they leave town. To prevent frustration and disappointment, make sure that a close friend or family member knows exactly what you're looking for. Then, if the right property comes on the market, someone can preview it for you, and if it sounds right you can make a "blind offer" with an opt-out clause through your agent.

9. Start with your best offer

A competitive market is not the right environment to negotiate a bargain. You may get only one chance to make an offer, and your offer may be one of several the seller can choose from. Consider an escalation clause, offering to pay up to a certain amount in cash if the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price. Another type of escalation clause offers a specified amount above the highest offer received, usually with a cap.

10. Write a personal letter to the sellers

Some sellers are interested only in how much money their home sale will yield, but others love their home want it to go to a new family that will love it just as much. If you really like a house, include a personal letter and a family photo with your offer. This is not for everyone, but for some buyers it works like a charm.

11. Make a big earnest money deposit

The expected size of the earnest money deposit, and the rules about when you get it back, vary by locality. But sellers often see a larger deposit as a sign that you're serious about the deal.

12. Be realistic about the inspection and repairs

The more competitive the market, the less likely a seller will be to make repairs, though some sellers may lower the price if the inspection reveals expensive defects. The purpose of the inspection isn't to get the seller to repair every small problem but to find out for sure that the house does not have major defects.

13. Make your offer as clean as possible

Most offers are made contingent on the buyer getting a mortgage, the appraisal being equal to the purchase price and the buyer approving the inspection. Waiving any one of those contingencies can be risky, but may be the right move in some circumstances. Include as few contingencies as possible: you want the offer to excite the seller and listing agent and still protect yourself.

Questions or additional tips? Please email me any time!

compiled from Realtor.com and yahoo finance, April 2016

11 April 2016

Preservation Alert: Paul Rudolph's Biggs residence, for sale at $1.495m

Update May 2016: the price has been dropped to $1.495m –motivated sellers!

Rudolph (1918-1997), the highly regarded modernist architect of "Sarasota school" fame and Chair of Yale University's Department of Architecture for six years, has built mostly on the Florida Gulf coast.

But occasionally there are also some commissions from him are to be found on our coast, such as this gem in Delray Beach, the Biggs residence built in 1955-56.

Listed by my dear colleague Linda who showed me the house last week, it was renovated and added to by local architect Bob Currie. Located east of the Intracoastal Waterway, it is only about two easy walking blocks from the ocean.

For sale at $1,795,000, it offers 5 bedrooms with 5 baths on 4,320 sf. The house is in need of a little love, but who at age 60 isn't? During an hour or so in the house, I did not observe anything terrible or deal-breaking.

If you are interested in saving a great modernist home with serious architectural pedigree, and if you love the idea of being an active preservationist – please step right up, here is your chance! Just contact me for a showing at your convenience at any time.


Photos: Linda Lake, Tobias Kaiser

31 March 2016

Pritzker-price winner and Architect Zaha Hadid dies suddenly at age 65

Sadly, today masterful architect Dame Zaha Hadid died suddenly from a heart attack, after being hospitalised with bronchitis in Miami where she was working on a new condominium project.

The British architect, born in Iraq in 1950, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth (thus "Dame", the female equivalent to "Sir") and also won a Pritzker price, architectur's equivalent to the Nobel price.

Three good pieces on Hadid you will find at the NYTimes, ArchDaily and Curbed.

To the many photos of her outstanding work if I find them(!) I may add a few of my own from her incredible Bergisel ski-jump in Innsbruck, Austria, as well as from her Nordpark railway stations in Innsbruck as well.

11 March 2016

It Caught My Eye: "Kienzle Automat" clock

Kienzle Automat clock - by Florida modern home real estate expert Tobias Kaiser

Recently I found this lovely mid-century modern mantel/desk clock made by Kienzle, one of Germany's oldest watchmakers, founded in 1822 (!) in Schwenningen (Black Forest).

Likely made in the mid- 50s to early 60s, this clock, the “Kienzle Automat”, is also featured in Kienzle’s wiki entry. The body is venereed wood, possibly walnut, hands and hour-circle are brass. It runs on an old (original?) battery-operated movement, and actually keeps time pretty well.

I know because I bought it. 

If you are interested in such clocks, let me know; I may be able to help you find one.