The second day I went back to the shop, which was a Wednesday because the shop was closed on Mondays, which took me a bit to get used to coming from American schedules. As I walked into the workspace, I was impressed with it’s size firstly. I always pictured clock and watch makers sitting at tiny tables surrounded tightly by the mechanisms of their work, but this place had a fairly open design plan and more tiny drawers than I had seen in one place. Hanging from hooks in the roof was hundreds of clocks of all shapes and sizes, in various states of construction. I was immediately hit with a sense of losing track of everything I was working on, that I would forget certain pieces, but then remembered that this gentleman had been at this for years, and probably had his own system.
As we made our way to two longer tables pressed against each other, their set ups directly mirroring each other, he told me that this was where we would begin to build when I was ready, until then, I would learn the ins and outs of every piece, gear and material within the shop. I would learn what each gear was used for, the terms and names of everything, and essentially spend a whole lot of time watching. This, coming from an engineering background, I was ok with. I knew coming into things that I would have a whole lot to learn, and wasn’t daunted.
He sat himself at the table, and asked me to pass him a piece he pointed to at the ceiling. It was a somewhat simple cuckoo clock design, that he stated would be the easiest place for me to start. I watched as he expertly dismantled the work that he had begun, and laid all the parts out on the table, I now see why we used a large table for his work rather than the tiny ones I was picturing, even in a simple clock there was hundreds of pieces to keep track of. He would point to one, say it’s name, and then continue on, every now and then making a backtrack to point to one that he had previously named, and look at me silently. I would attempt to recall the name, and found myself only getting about one out of every five or six.
He didn’t seem at all phased by this though, and we continued this game for the rest of the afternoon. Some may have felt at the end of the day that this long tedious game of memory would have been a waste of time after flying halfway across the world to learn how to actually do something, but then again, I once again credit my engineering background for giving me the patience to know that in complicated things, simple and tedious approaches build success. It took me just over a week to be able to name four out of every five to six.