The Key to the Mystery

An altogether romantic clock was fully restored in the workshop – along with the key to its heart.

The new, thin key saves the superb mother-of-pearl from damage.

Two trees, a hunter, the dial in the shape of a target: the fire-gilded bronze table clock with a penholder, inkwell and sandbox (used to dry the ink before there was blotting paper) is about 200 years old and comes from Vienna. The owner of the Tintenfass [‘Inkwell’] Museum in Adligenswil, Lucerne, Erhard Durrer, bought them at an auction and entrusted them to the Beyer Watch Workshop for restoration.

“The movement in the thick base had been replaced at some point; that’s known as a mariage,” Damian Ahcin, co-director of the Beyer Watch Workshop, explains: “Other components have also been modified over the years, which is typical for such pieces.” How- ever, the work had not been done accurately: impre- cise drill holes meant that the 15-centimetre-long key could only be inserted at an angle and so rubbed on the tree, damaging the old mother-of-pearl. Ahcin constructed a new, thinner key with which the watch can be wound at a better angle.

For a long time, however, he was stumped: the movement with a spindle escapement only ran per- fectly in a dismantled state, when it was not connect- ed to the dial. So the problem was in the transmission. “I had to rebalance it, rework a square shaft here, remove some material there and correct the gearing, one tiny step at a time,” Ahcin explains. “It’s a very time-consuming process, at the end of which many tiny rebuilt parts have to interact flawlessly.”

Surprisingly simple: clock movement in the base.
Goldige Grossuhr
After its painstaking restoration, the table clock with the hunter and target was returned to the Tintenfass Museum, where it can be admired today.

The fire-gilded cast figures were in good condition; the scenery only had to be cleaned. Considerably refreshed and brighter, the old mother-of-pearl has regained its lustre, that distinctive shim- mering sheen. Damian Ahcin winds the clock with the key, listens intently to the ticking and laughs: “It’s almost twelve o’clock – time to go hunting for lunch.”

Text: Matthias Mächler


Beyer Chronometrie