Time Craft

SwitzerlandWhen I first arrived in Switzerland the first thing to catch my attention was the scenery. The alps off in the distance, and the beautiful architecture, certainly something I wasn’t used to in my small town part of the US. I’m sure there are beautiful places across the country, but I can only go off what I saw, which was a suburban town with one street of stores. This city, was like something out of a fairy tale, and I spent the first two days there just wandering around, looking at every tiny detail. I’m sure I would have only been more obvious with a shirt that stated tourist in bold capital letters, but I was fine with being enraptured with the beauty of a place I was just now seeing for the first time.

By this point I was settled in the small apartment arranged ahead of my travels here. It was nothing overly special, mainly a room with a bed, and a separate room that doubled as a kitchen and living room. For the budget I had to work out over the span of the year I would be here, it was what I could afford, yet it still served my means, and I didn’t expect to be spending a lot of time just sitting in my apartment when there was so much to explore in the area. I had a four day rest before I was to begin my apprenticeship and so took the opportunity to truly explore my surroundings, take a lot of pictures, and video call the family back home to let them know I arrived safe.

I wasn’t sure what to expect the morning I woke up to get my first days apprenticeship under my belt, or who to expect even as I walked through the door to the workshop. I was greeted by a nice older lady, who spoke in fairly good English, pock marked with a heavy Swiss accent. She had me fill out some paperwork while I was there, and brought me to an office to meet with the master I would be apprenticing under. I expected a crazy haired man in a cardigan, those glasses with four sets of magnifying glasses attached to the side. But the man who walked in was maybe only 10 years older than me, sharply dressed with a leather apron over his dress shirt.

watchmakerHe was somewhat emotionless, giving me the once over, and then breaking out into a big welcoming grin and shaking my hand firmly. I assume he also wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and something in either my dress or mannerisms put him into a more comfortable state, I never really brought it up for fear of coming across as rude. We spent the afternoon talking about what we would be doing over the course of the year, and about the potential to continue my apprenticeship to second and third years if everything worked out with work and visas, and of  course finances.


Second Hand

Since I was a child I was fascinated with time. I remember spending hours in our family home staring at the grandfather clock that stood in the hallway, trying to figure out how it all worked. How the second hand kept going, the pendulum kept swinging, and how it did all of this without being plugged into the wall. I would count out seconds with each minute gone by, and wait for the chime every hour. I’m sure that to my parents, it must have been weird to have a child who would just sit there and stare at the clock for hours on end, but I’m sure it’s just as bad as kids today staring at the television for hours on end.

alarm clockThere was something about the mechanics of clocks that always grabbed my attention, and the older I got, and the more I understood some things, the more confused I actually became about how clocks worked. I remember having this open gear system alarm clock, and just watching in awe at all the moving parts required to simply turn three hands on a face. But all of this done with high accuracy, to the point of only losing a few minutes every few years, this was a cheap alarm clock after all, not a high quality Swiss design or something of the like.

Growing up throughout the years, my birthday and Christmas wish lists were always topped by time pieces. Whether watches or clocks of all shapes and sizes. I had amassed quite the collection by the time I was in college. When I moved out of the house to get my engineering degree, I left a lot of these behind in storage. Coming back after my tenure in school, I had grown my collection while on my own, and had the greatest time going through all the boxes to reopen all of these gifts that I had received over the years, it was like getting all new gifts all over again, the memory and wonder coming back with each piece I came across that I hadn’t seen in ages.

After graduating from school, degree in hand, I could have immediately gotten into engineering work, but I was still in love with clocks. After spending a lot of time researching, I found an apprenticeship program in Switzerland for clock making under master artists. It was pricey and it was across the planet, but it was something I couldn’t turn down. So after going through a lengthy application process, and getting a whole lot of paperwork done, I found myself on a plane heading to the land of the most elaborate and master built clocks in the world. I was more excited for this journey than anything else I had done in my life, and marvelled at the path of pursuit that my dreams had taken me to by this point, wondering where I was going to go next with all that I would learn while I was there.

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