Your start in horology

Discussion in 'Member News and Views' started by dweiss17, Mar 2, 2015.

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  1. dweiss17

    dweiss17 Registered User
    Old Timer NAWCC Member

    Aug 1, 2006
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    What started your interest into horology...watches, clocks or ephemera?

    A picture of a bracket clock in a woodworker's magazine started mine...now going over 50 years strong.
     
  2. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Feb 24, 2007
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    Mine started when my sister and I continued my father's and his great aunts efforts in genealogy starting in the mid 1990's. In around 2006 I started delving into my great, great grandfathers life and his business as a partner in Cross and Beguelin on Maiden Lane in NYC. I started collecting the watches they produced called the Centennial, a low-mid grade Swiss movement in various sizes sold between 1876 and the mid 1890's. I learned about the Swiss ebauche system and how none of these watches had many interchangeable parts even though the appeared to be the same size. From there it blossomed into other brands and now primarily Walthams.
     
  3. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
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    One Saturday morning in 1948 (I was 8 yrs. old), my watchmaker father told me it was about time for me to learn his business. The first task I had involved a drawer about two feet long, 8 inches wide, eight inches deep, which was full of un- assorted mainsprings. He was a Depression era watchmaker, back in the day you didn't throw anything out! He handed me a box of 1,000 Manila envelopes, a metric micrometer, and a ruler. I had to measure width, strength, and length of every spring in that drawer! I became a watch repairer, then a jewellery store manager, and in 1990 when I got "down-sized" by the company I had worked for, for 25 years, I accepted a package to leave them, rather than to take a pay cut and continued employment. The decision was an easy one! I took the package because I was already making more on my own than the company was paying me!

    The company paid me a store manager's salary for the year, while a bunch of us restored and installed a tower clock, as volunteers. (See the article on the James Short Tower Clock in the Bulletin.) How good is that? That club became NAWCC chapter 145 in 1990.

    I really became interested in watches as collectibles in 1984, when I realized I knew a whole lot about fixing broken watches, but not much about the finer points and the history. I joined a local club in February, 1984, heard about the NAWCC Pacific North West regional (Portland, Ore.) later that month. We went, I joined, and have been a member since then. I'll be 75 in the fall, and I have no intention of retiring! People actually PAY me to have fun repairing watches and clocks! I collect mostly American (and Swiss) railroad grade watches, but I also collect clocks and wrist watches. Thanks for asking!
     
  4. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Dec 18, 2011
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    Over the years I have had various hobbys and interests. I have always enjoyed making and fixing things. Back in the 50's when my Dad was in the Navy, he returned from a deployment with a 400 day clock that he had purchased in Germany. It never worked for more than a couple of minutes. Some how the glass dome survived all the subsequent moves and stayed in the family. About 7 years ago I decided it was time to get it to work...which I did. When I retired I decided that learning more about clock repair would be interesting and soon after joined this message board and subsequently the NAWCC.

    So now my interests are in clock repair and not collecting. I am not interesting is making a clock since I know how to do it. However I love to get a clock that is really broken, since I know I can fix it even though I don't know how when I first start. Love a good challenge. Don't believe in replacing a movement, as much as possible has to be preserved.

    David
     
  5. ClipClock

    ClipClock Registered User
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    Jun 20, 2013
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    I've always been a fixer of things in general, but only really got into clocks a couple of years ago when my mothers favourite clock stopped working. I took it to a repair shop (I now know it to be the most expensive repair shop in the area....and they quoted a VERY large sum to repair it). Way more than my mother could afford. So I looked around for a clock repair course, which I was lucky enough to find, and took the clock with me. Got it fixed and was hopelessly hooked.

    I love buying old preferably non-working clocks and spend as long as it takes to service them and get them working perfectly. Then I sell them and get pleasure from the fact that they go back to being someones prized possession.

    I'm not a collector, so far I've only kept 2 clocks, an alarm clock and a mantel clock. Plus have an inherited wall clock (foul) and carriage clock (nice). Perhaps that makes me odd, but its the workings that really interest me. Maybe one day, with help from the NAWCC, I'll feel I'm good enough to repair them for other people (Maybe lol...) That would be perfect :)
     
  6. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Clip sounds quite similar to my start. I do now fix clocks for other people, and from what I have seen from your posts, you could do the same. I recognized where I am in my continuum of learning and charge my clients accordingly. I also offer a warranty on MY work. Alot of my work is more charity.

    David
     
  7. ClipClock

    ClipClock Registered User
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    Thank you David, but I feel I need a bit more experience yet, you are light years ahead of me. But yes it does sound like we have similar starts :)

    I repair clocks for friends and family (for free), and a few of the customers I've sold clocks to have sent me another of their clocks to repair, but that's a bit different to offering a service. I always give a guarantee on the clocks I sell, so far only one came back for repair which was something I'd missed and didnt come to light until a couple of months after I sold it. Its a good way of making sure I got them right :)
     
  8. Silver Forge Studio

    Silver Forge Studio Registered User

    Feb 22, 2015
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    Im going to weigh in- although not technically "IN" the field yet- I am amassing a miniature hoard of broken movements and tools... and starting the journey a lot of folks here seem to have gone down... (By the way- thanks to all here for making my path a bit brighter by following in your footsteps!)

    I horse traded for a Hermele Grandfather Clock Movement (Mason and Sullivan Kit from the 70's) still in the box with pendulum rod thinking I would build a tall-case clock for my wife to have for our 10 year mark (I've got 3-4 years left to learn!)...

    The gent I got the movement from passed away and I went to his estate sale- bought some tooling and other items from his family. Among them- a Waltham 1924 Riverside- in need of repair.

    I just think the machinations and the history alone are awesome, and its a pleasure to repair and rebuild and restore (or in my case start- with the grandfather clock) family tradition and heritage.
     
  9. ClipClock

    ClipClock Registered User
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    Just warning you SFS, its highly addictive, once you start there's no way back :D

    But you've certainly come to the right place, the depth of knowledge (and the patience) of the folk on this forum is amazing :)
     
  10. Bill Stuntz

    Bill Stuntz Technical Admin
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    Apr 6, 2012
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    Clip, I hope you're including yourself in "depth of knowledge... folk on this forum" - I've enjoyed watching your skills develop during the time you've been posting here.
    Dinner's ready, so I'll probably come back later with my story.
     
  11. leeinv66

    leeinv66 Moderator
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    We moved into a caretaker's cottage at the local council depot when I was seven. it was located about 200 yards as the crow flies from out local post office and its clock. This is a Westminster chime & strike clock, so every 1/4 of an hour it is making a noise 24/7. I couldn't sleep for the first week, but eventually, I didn't even hear the clock unless I was thinking about what time it was. Anyway, we moved out of town again when I was about twelve. I could sleep as it was just too quiet so my father put a 1930s Mauthe Westminster mantle clock in my bedroom. I have been playing with clocks ever since. Here is a little about the clock: Click Here

    Launceston Post Office Clock.jpg
     
  12. PW&C

    PW&C Registered user.

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    Nice thread.

    I was laid off from a factory job in the late 70's and during my "time off" I read a book by Corrie Ten Boom who came from a family of watchmakers in Holland who were active in protecting Jews from the Nazi occupation. I enjoyed the whole account but was particularly struck with her description of her father's shop and the fine work that they did, so much so that I talked a local jeweler into hiring me to sweep the floor for $3 an hour and so began to learn watch repair. From there I did apprenticeships under some very good horologists in preparation for the State of Indiana's Watchmaking Certificate exam which I passed with high marks.

    Not many remember that it was not too long ago that many states required licenses for watchmakers the same as they did for electricians and plumbers and that one could be fined or face charges if one practiced the trade without a license.
     
  13. Silver Forge Studio

    Silver Forge Studio Registered User

    Feb 22, 2015
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    I have to agree Clip- What I used to call COGS in my lathe-work I referred to as a PINION the other day- the older fellow I am learning some machine work from laughed and told me to keep playing with my clocks... :)!
     
  14. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Oct 19, 2005
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    My first experience with clocks came at an auction. There was a 400 day clock that looked pretty good, that just didn't attract any bidders. When the auctioneer went down to $2.00, I bid and won it. When I got it home, I noticed that the pendulum was locked in the up position, so I released it and the clock took right off! I put it on a shelf and enjoyed it for a few years until a guest accidentally hit the shelf and the clock hit the floor and shattered. I regret now, that my first impulse was to throw it away!
    But I did, and started looking for a replacement. I found one, and bought it .... but it would not run. So I started looking for advise, found this message board and learned enough to take it apart, clean it, replace the suspension spring and get it running. I was hooked, and have been ever since. I now am retired from my former employment, and keep busy repairing clocks as a small business. Never get tired of new challenges that come up during repairing clocks!
     

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