It’s About Time

Timepieces have a great deal of meaning for me. You see, my father was a watchmaker. He loved to play with the intricate, the delicate, the tiny pieces that made a watch tick. He learned his craft by peeking over the shoulder of his first boss in the office of a bowling alley. In those days, it took a human being to set up the pins once the players knocked them down. Funny enough, that was my first job too. It took awhile for automation to reach the facilities that house that sport.

Dad was so fascinated with the work of mending timepieces, that he chose it as a vocation. And that was fine enough to build a life for him and his wife, but when children were added to the picture, it became impossible to make ends meet.

“Too much dollar down, dollar a week,” he said. He moved north into mining country where the big money was. They went on to have three girls — none of whom, sadly for my Dad, were fascinated with the intricate, or the delicate. But he kept on. It was always a hobby for him. He charged people a little, but it wasn’t about that. It was about working with the tiny pieces and keeping all the timepieces of the world working.

He treated it like a business with a logo and everything. He belonged to the professional association of watchmakers, and his advertising was word of mouth.

People came from all over to get their watches repaired, and almost as important as their business was the chance to visit with them. They brought more than a broken watch. Much more.

And so now, all these years later, I have a fascination with timepieces. I discovered as I prepared the photos for this article that I have an embarrassingly large watch wardrobe. And that’s okay.

I’m glad I have kept them all, because in the bottom of the box, at the back, I found my very first watch. My father gave it to me when I turned 10. It was known as a nurse’s watch at the time, as he was convinced I would become a nurse. Again, I pretty much let him down. In any case, it was a good start to see if I could handle responsibility. I guess I did all right. The watch is still here!

Now, those closest to me know that a timepiece is an amazing gift — like this antique clock that beautifies my home. I have come to understand that time is a precious gift too: you spending it with me — me spending it with you. It is an endless effort not to waste it.

Owning a watch taught me responsibility. The people who brought watches for repair taught me social skills and opened my imagination. Seeing the variety and beauty of timepieces gave me appreciation for art. Realizing that time is ticking, that it’s meant to pass, has brought me respect for life and those who use it well. My father was brilliant.

Photo Credit
All photos by © Peg Ainsley

Recent Peg Ainsley Articles:

  • Shite Happens
  • The Return: A Kootenay Roadtrip
  • The Naturopathic Way
  • The Fine Art of Selling My Stuff
  • That Did Not Just Happen!

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