INVERNESS, Fla. — Some say the clock business is a dying art.
Mike Moore, owner of Mantiques and Other Finery in Inverness, disagrees. He says business is good — clocks big and small coming in daily for repairs.
He is a horologist — a studier of time or, more importantly, a clock repairer.
“I’m a fixer,” Moore said. “The reason why I have this shop is that I’m one of those gearheads who can fix anything and everything.”
Around his shop, you can find some unique hand-crafted items in addition to vintage finds gently brought back to life.
At the core, Moore says, every one of these finely crafted items recounts a story.
One clock from the 1890s, engineered by Joseph H. Eastman, has unique features that ultimately changed the industry during that era — and is a replica of the Boston State House.
“It has a patent because one arbor winds in two directions, a first of its time. But he (Eastman) was a terrible businessman and sold his company to the Chelsea Clock Company after only a few years,” Moore said.
Another clock is from an Orlando resident who is the great-great-granddaughter of Joseph M. Huston, who is noted for being the architect of the third Pennsylvania state capitol. At nearly 127 years old, and having been passed down through generations, the clock doesn’t work, but Moore says no job is too big or too small and he’s confident he can fix it.
“We are going to take it apart, and restore it — just as though it came off of an assembly line 100 years ago,” Moore said.
“All of the clocks we work on are guaranteed to work,” he said. “We have an old Chinese clock — probably from the ’70s, but it works. Some may say ‘why would you do that?’ Because it’s cool — and it’s not in a landfill.”
To Moore, the question is: why throw away something fixable?
He also likes to create clocks out of old vinyl records, with spins on titles such as “Rock around the Clock,” ”Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is,” or “Time in a Bottle.”
Moore’s experience in clock repair goes back nearly 30 years, but his love for taking things apart started around age 3.
“I have a long crooked path,” Moore said. “I graduated from Cornell, went to grad school at Kansas State and, after getting bored, I decided to study clock repair under some of the world’s best clockmakers at the same time.”
Moore served as an eastern medicine doctor in Citrus County for a little more than 10 years, then became a photojournalist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency where he photographed some of America’s biggest disasters for eight years.
Then, nearly four years ago, his path led him back to his early training in clock repair. Now he calls himself the “Clock Doctor.”
After two years, unbeknownst to Moore, his shop would become a clock school when a disabled young man, Shawn Schwartz, became his apprentice.
“Shawn used to work on heavy machinery and rescue animals on his parent’s farm in Maryland,” Moore said.
“One day his father came in asking if there was something his son could do…I said sure, to bring him in.”
When Shawn came into the shop, Moore asked him if he liked puzzles, and handed him a clock.
“He has been working for me for two years now and loves working on clocks. He is gifted,” Moore said. “In fact, we could use another mechanically inclined person to apprentice.
“I am trying to revive and prolong this industry. We are a school of clock making now and less than a shop. I’m trying to teach these guys so this profession does not die.”
Information from: Citrus County Chronicle (Crystal River, Fla.), http://www.chronicle-online.com