From the point of playing the memory game, we began to work on how assemblies came together, why certain pieces worked with others, how to create balance, and most importantly how to operate the springs. The coiled up spring you find if you pull apart any wound clock or watch may look simplistic in it’s design, but I can attest to how difficult it is to get in right, wind correctly, and not slice into part of your finger if it does inevitably snap out of place, which I did at least a half dozen times in my first six months there. By this point I was learning the layout of the shop pretty well, the drawers were becoming familiar, and I was learning to put gear systems into place efficiently.
Some of the mystery of the clocks that I remember having as a kid, staring in the hallway at our grandfather clock started to become unravelled. My teacher was extremely proficient in his means of teaching, and I was finding that I could retain a lot of what he taught me through his simple actions. And I guess that when it comes to this type of teaching, you need to emulate the object you’re learning. That every tiny piece comes together in the end, and even though something looks or feels simplistic, without it the whole mechanism would fall apart. It was really impressive when I started to reflect on all I learned in such a short time.
After spending a fair bit of time doing runs, I would learn to wind, how to lathe gears, and other minor tasks that every respectable watch and clock maker should know. I got to see and somewhat understand the intricate work of pocket watches that I always admired, and spent a lot of time looking up from my tasks at hand to watch him deftly putting pieces together in much more intricate or larger time pieces. It was a humbling experience that I’m sure is never taken into account when you look at your own watch or clock, the amount of work that goes into high quality ones, and why they can have such a high asking price, the majority is the skill level of the work that goes into it.
Nearing the end of my first year, I began to assist with some minor repairs, either to the gear work itself or to the structure that frames it, and began to dread my time coming to an end. We talked at the start of my first year about my perhaps staying on, but if there was anything I had learned over this time, is that my teacher would never make a final statement until all the pieces were in place, and as much as I admired that, I wondered if I would have enough time to get everything I needed to into place to be able to extend my stay here, as there was a lot of paperwork to fill out.
The next part of my story is called Buying Time