Clockmaking a labour of love

Guy Luck carefully machining, filing, cutting and polishing each working part in his workshop.

There is something comforting about the rhythmic tick tock, tick tock of a clock.

Clocks conjure visions of grandfather clocks in heavy casket-likecases,ornate wooden pieces on a mantelpiece above a fireplace. But not those made by Constantia clockmaker Guy Luck.

Born in Kenya, his grandfather’s paintings cover the walls of his Constantia home, but Guy prefers to work with his hands.

He was not always a clockmaker. In fact, he originally trained and worked as a geologist around 1976 but then spent the next 35 years as a blacksmith, using the old traditional skills learnt from his uncle, a retired medical doctor who taught him how to make ornamental gates, railings, balustrades and the like.

Much of his blacksmith work involved making the ironwork needed for the restoration of old Cape Dutch buildings and for new faux ones built nowadays.

It was while living at The Craggs in Plettenberg Bay, early in his career that Guy took up model engineering and ultimately built three 5-inch-gauge live steam locomotives. He was involved with the miniature railway club in Plettenberg Bay, where he ran these locomotives.

He had an apprentice at that time who left three years later to set up his own business in Magaliesberg.

When Guy moved to Hout Bay, he worked from a much smaller workshop and tried his hand at making a clock.

That was two years ago when he filled the house with clocks and decided to sell them.

Since then he has moved to Constantia and his passion for clockmaking continues.

“I work on them six days a week and on the seventh day I think about them,” he smiled.

These are no ordinary clocks.
They are modern, made from a variety of metals, including brass and copper with stainless steel for the frames instead of the more traditional brass.

This gives the clocks a more modern look. Each working part is carefully machined, filed, cut and polished. The careful craftsmanship and attention to detail are clearly demonstrated in each piece.

Guy’s inspiration came from the well-known English horologist John Wilding and others. He has since made about 30 clocks, about six a year, of all types, including regulators, long-case clocks, skeleton clocks and even some electric clocks.

His recent clocks are his own design. “It’s not easy: all parts have to fit into the design, but it must be artistically pleasing,” he says.

All the working parts are made entirely by Guy and his clocks take many weeks to build. Some stand on a granite base and each has a plexiglass protective cover.

“Dust is the enemy of clocks. It mixes with the oil and forms a grinding paste which over the years can be a disaster,” says Guy.