NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a profession as old as time, but an important one.

It’s a clock master and New York City actually has one. He keeps city clocks ticking, and the Friday before Daylight Saving Time is one of his biggest days of the year.

Marvin Schneider, 79, adjusted the time on about half a dozen mechanical clocks throughout City Hall.

“When you change the time, you only go ahead,” he explained. “There is machinery in here and if we go backwards, we’d cause damage.”

His most important stop — City Hall’s iconic clock tower.

“People look to this clock as something that represents the city,” Schneider said.

The clock tower is controlled from underneath and required a few more steps than the others, but to Schneider, it all comes naturally. He says it doesn’t feel like work.

“This [clock] is a baby. It’s about 160 years old,” he said.

His curiosity and passion for clocks started at a young age and ultimately landed him the part-time job as the city’s clock master.

“A prominent preservationist came up with the idea that it would be good for New York City to have an official clock master like European cities do,” Schneider said.

Up until that point, he was helping to repair city clocks for free. Now, Schneider doesn’t operate alone. His volunteer assistant, Forest Markowitz, also sees the importance in making sure these pieces of history tick on.

“It’s very easy to say throw it out,” Markowitz said. “But you’re losing that link with the past.”

New York City clock master Marvin Schneider (Credit: CBS2)

How long will Schneider do it?

“I can’t say. Suffice it to say that I’m surprised that I’m still doing it now,” he said.

Just like he has for the past 27 years, Schneider resumes his weekly maintenance like clockwork.

Schneider says he sets the clocks back a day in advance because there’s no way he’s coming out on Sunday at 2 a.m. to do it then.

He also says it’s a good reminder for everyone that Daylight Saving Time is coming.


Leave a Reply