NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A. Marshall Irving is an antiquarian horologist—an expert in old clocks.
Soon to turn 90 years old, Irving keeps a full schedule, dividing his time between his clock repair business and teaching about clocks at the Port Jefferson Historical Society.
His fascination with clocks started in the 1960s, when his family gave him a gift of several antiques they found in their attics.
“Some of them were clocks and, as a curious engineer, I set to ask myself, ‘How does this work?’ And the next thing you know, I was fixing them,” he told CBS2’s Elle McLogan.
Now, he makes house calls as a repairman, fixing anything from a digital wristwatch to a clock in a church tower.
“I’ve been in the tower clock at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, restored those movements and got them going,” he said,
To do it, he told Elle, he had to climb 100 feet up the scaffolding.
His profession brings him in contact with a wide array of people and timepieces.
“One client of mine has 1,000 wristwatches in his collection,” he said. “Most of it’s junk, but he has 1,000!”
He credits his success to a background in engineering.
“I’m a trained engineer by the Merchant Marine Academy, went to sea on ships in the navy. I became an aerospace engineer, then became an administrative law judge for the state of New York, as an engineer,” he said.
He still gets wound up about the special clocks he works on.
“One class of clocks that I find particularly fascinating… the ones that have no battery, no keys, and they will run 30 years without being touched. It’s called an Atmos clock. It runs on a change in temperature,” he said.
Each day on the job brings a new challenge.
“Every day, I find something that I haven’t seen before,” he said. “Some of them are works of art. They’re great things.”
Clock Museum at the Port Jefferson Historical Society
115 Prospect Street
Port Jefferson, NY 11777
(Open May 27 to October 8)
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