The term for this came from a song that sold a million copies in 1876.
The grandfather clock as we know it was invented in 1680 and was called a longcase clock. The new technology at the time allowed the clocks to run for 8 days; they were also much more accurate than other clocks.
In 1875, an American songwriter named Henry Clay Work was visiting England. He stayed in a hotel with a giant longcase clock that didn’t work. Of course, the hotel had a huge elaborate story as to why the clock didn’t work; supposedly it stopped working when the clockmaker who built it died. More likely, it was probably owners who were too cheap to have it fixed or hauled off.
Regardless, Henry was inspired and wrote a song when he got back to America. “My Grandfather’s Clock” was a huge hit in 1876… it sold over a million copies of the sheet music. It’s been covered a number of times, including by the group Boys II Men in 2004.