Lewis Walduck, 17, is a horological apprentice with The Clock Work Shop and an avid collector.
ATG: What drew you to collecting clocks and watches?
LW: Ever since I can remember I have been interested in clocks. I don’t know where the interest originally came from. Maybe from going to my great-grandparents’ house because they had many different clocks and I just loved it?
Tell us about your first timepiece and where you got it.
The first antique watch I had was given to me by my great grandfather and it’s what sparked my interest in the mechanics of clocks and watches. I still have it and although it is just a quite standard military pocket watch it’s something I would never part with.
How and when did you get the antiques bug?
Although I have always had an interest in antiques, I first started to buy, sell, and collect them on a large scale when my father and I took over a small antiques fair in Buckinghamshire (Brill Antique Fair). I remember my first day I thought I would sell a few things and I made £300! From that day on I got the bug.
Do you still organise fairs with your father (when the coronavirus retrictions allow)?
Yes, my father and I still run Brill Antique Fair (although we had to cancel it in 2020 due to the pandemic). It’s normally the first Sunday of the month (during the winter months and we break for summer) and we have between 20-30 sellers who attended. It’s not the biggest fair in the world but it’s great to meet people in the antiques trade and they have all been very supportive because my family have had no background in the antiques market, so I have learnt a lot.
When did you start the apprenticeship and how did you find the position?
I started my apprenticeship in January. However, it’s been in the pipeline for about two years. It first came about when my family and I were on holiday in Dorset. We saw the shop, popped in and they couldn’t have been nicer. The next year when we went to Dorset I had to go back to the shop, and they told me that I could spend the day in the workshop!
So obviously I said yes and the day went so quickly. After that they offered me an apprenticeship with them. So as soon as I could leave school I joined Richard Scorey in our Winchester workshop and he is one of the nicest people I know and a great teacher.
What elements do you look for when seeking a new purchase to add to your collection?
When I see something that I might want to buy originality is always important. If an item has had something added or taken away you need to ask yourself why. Obviously price is always an important factor and I am never scared to negotiate.
But one thing you need to make sure you do is to not think with your heart. You need to take a step back and think ‘am I making the right decision?’ – in the past I have bought things without properly looking at them or because there’s a lot of interest in them, and I would always say double check just to make sure you’re making the right decision.
Where do you find items to buy?
We often go round the country to antiques fairs, auction houses and shops.
What is the most you have ever spent on an item for your collection?
My collection is always changing because I buy and sell things in order to improve them. However, I have bought clocks individually for thousands of pounds in the past.
How large is your collection?
I don’t actually know. My room is full of clocks and other antiques that have caught my eye over the years. I have a passion for items from the 18th century and older but I would say at my peak it’s been over 100 clocks. But I would say I only have about 30 at the moment because it’s been difficult to get clocks in lockdown to keep the stocks up because I have still been selling them.
How do you display your items?
I have picked up a few nice display cabinets over the years (for example, I have a nice 19th century ebonised cabinet that really looks the part and I put some of my better clocks in there).
But my room is just full of clocks – you really wouldn’t want to be in there at 12 o’clock, the whole building shakes!
What is your ‘holy grail’ item – the one you would love to own one day?
One day I would love to own a clock by Joseph Knibb (1640–1711). He is my favourite clockmaker. Joseph worked at the end of the 17th century and produced some of the greatest clocks of the so-called ‘golden age’ in clockmaking. However, some of his clocks are in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
What advice would you give to other young collectors?
I would say it’s a great thing to get into. Most people I speak to are really supportive and nice. Antiques are a great thing to collect because there is such a wide range: not all antiques are expensive and you can buy something that is over 100 years old for a really not a lot. If you have an interest, go for it.
Antiques and clock specialist and restorer The Clock Work Shop was established in 1996 and now trades from a showroom and workshop in Dorset and a workshop (where Lewis works) at Kings Worthy, Hampshire.