Among antique watchmaker benches and hand-powered tools, Daniel Nied has re-created an old world where people make things from scratch and quality is paramount.
Everyone from the man-on-the-street to the U.S. Navy brings him broken timepieces and, like a shaman's secret breath of life, his expertise sets their hearts to tick-tocking again.
Like the clocks and watches he has restored and conserved and repaired, Nied doesn't want his craft to die. The York City horologist -- one who studies the art of measuring time -- was recently issued a license by state's Department of Education to operate a diploma program in watch and clock making.
The 61-year-old former instructor for the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors in Columbia, Lancaster County, has amassed more than three decades of experience in restoring old watches and clocks for museums and collectors.
His expertise was called on by the U.S. Navy to preserve a precious watch found in a shipwrecked Civil War submarine, the Confederate H. L. Hunley.
Home schooled: He runs the new school out of the bottom two floors of his historic home. The house is used to it; upon researching the home's history, Nied and his wife learned it was a watchmaker and jeweler's shop from 1896 to 1906.
The programs offered range from evening or weekend classes on short subjects such as "Basic Watch and Clock Care" to a 54-week program whose graduates leave with the necessary skills to either open their own business or gain employment working in the repair, restoration and conservation of timepieces.
Nied said there is great demand for people who are able to repair watches and clocks. There are more of the craftspeople dying every year than there are people entering the field, he said.
Last Friday, advanced students Marquis Matthews, an electronics technician from Baltimore, and Bill Haigney, a New York City paramedic, were hunkered down at one of the benches with instructor Bob Blum. The students explained that they're learning the art of watch repair to further the craft and to have a job to fall back on.
Related fields: Nied said the clock and watch program also prepares students for jobs in related fields that require the same training in micro and macro technology, such as medical manufacturing and instrument making. Understanding the workings of clocks is beneficial for working on many other things, including gauges in cars and on medical equipment, mechanical toys, music boxes and parking meters, he said.
But it's also a way to ensure that clocks can continue to be a living part of history, Blum said.
"Not too many things other than clocks are out there in society, still working after 150 years," he said.
"Not a single politician, for sure," Nied added.
--Reach Christina Kauff man at 505-5436 or firstname.lastname@example.org.