Clock repair business steady despite modern technology

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Years ago, retired truck driver Angel Hernandez needed to fix a couple of broken clocks. After calling around, he ended up at Boyd Clocks, which has been in Tampa since 1944.

"The clock was in pieces, I couldn't put it back together," he said. "I asked if I could watch them put the clock back together."

Hernandez was hooked. He asked if he could shadow the mechanics and learn the basics.

That was five years ago. He's now one of the store's longer-tenured mechanics.

"It is a lot of fun rebuilding a clock because it's like putting [together] a new puzzle all the time," Hernandez said. "It's not like buying a puzzle in the box and then putting it together several times, and it gets kind of boring. Every clock is unique."

That uniqueness is why it can take months to fully repair a clock. Repairs and restoration are now the main sources of income at vintage clock stores like Boyd Clocks, as the places have had to adapt to the digital age.

"The most challenging thing about the clock business right now is sales. We have hardly any," Boyd Clocks' J.R. Leslie said.

Leslie is one of the store's younger employees. He says his generation doesn't have clocks on their radar at all. He adds most clock owners he meets keep them because of an emotional attachment rather than actual value.

"They have a story. They remember somebody because of the clock," he said.

Even in the digital world, Boyd Clocks seems busy. Amid all the sounds of strikes and chimes sit dozens of clocks ready for repair, and each one will keep mechanics like Hernandez busy.

"We've seen all kind of different mechanisms," Hernandez said. "Putting stuff like this together, it's the fun of it."