Categories

Our story as 'medieval clockmakers' started in 1960 when my father made his first wooden wall mounted mechanical clock.


At that time he was working as a manager at a wooden doors and furniture factory. He is an industrial engineer and ever since he was a child has always liked mechanics. As a teenager he made his own toys, he knew how to repair motors and created several inventions that astonished his family.

After finding photographs of antique clocks in an Italian clockmaking history book, he came up with the idea of making a model that would work the same way as medieval clocks which were the first mechanical invention to measure time.

He worked on this clock and eventually succeeded in making it work properly, just like the fifteenth century ones. He gave it to his brother as a present who showed it to friends and family; many people wanted one too to decorate their houses.
The clock was enormously successful so my father decided to quit his job at the factory and started off on a new adventure as medieval clockmaker.

Later, in 1974, while bed-ridden for three months due to hepatitis, he designed the considerably more complicated iron clocks with a system for striking the hours.
In 1990, after finishing my degree in archaeological restoration that gave me the skills and appetite for working with my hands, drawing and attention to detail, I decided to join my father doing this job that had always seemed very interesting to me. This was the time we started to make our flying pendulum clocks. We both worked together to calculate and design the new cogwheels and pieces needed for these models.
In our little workshop, we make all the pieces that go towards producing every clock. Considering the different models (18), the number of pieces we have to make is about two hundred.

Let me walk you round our workshop...

On the shelves stand hundreds of drawers containing the smaller pieces. A great number of jars contain different types of nails, screws, nuts, washes, hands, axles, cotter pins etc...all waiting their turn to take their place on the clock.
There are several tables used to assemble the mechanisms and the clocks while a battery of tools hang from the wall in perfect order. The tables and most of the walls of this main assembly room are full of the clocks just finished that are ready to be checked.

A lathe, two industrial drills, a dentist's drill, a band saw, a circular saw, a polishing machine, a sander, an electric press and a kiln...all in a room in which we carry out the ageing process of all the pieces.

There is another room that contains the bigger pieces already finished, organised in cardboard boxes with a sample on the outside to identify them. This is also where the packing section is, with boxes of different sizes purpose-made for every type of clock.
There is also a warehouse where we keep all the raw materials we need such as iron, brass, steel in different shapes.

In our workshop every tool, every little piece has to return to its place after being used so that it can be found easily next time. It is important for us to keep everything in order and to control the stock of pieces because if we do not do so and a single piece is not available, the clock cannot be completed.

This extremely meticulous work must be done in a calm atmosphere to achieve better concentration. We work most of the time to good music and we receive our guests enthusiastically because in our lonely medieval world we cannot miss the opportunity to talk to those from the outside.

It is in this atmosphere that the possibility of making clocks of an outstanding quality arises. There, the master passes on his knowledge to the apprentice who tomorrow will be a master in her turn. We hope we will succeed in keeping this art and small industry from the Middle Ages alive in today's crazy world.
María Ardavín


Videos

Search