July 13th, 2012
08:23 AM ET

When Time Stands Still, He Fixes It

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

(CNN) – Through the lenses of his modern eyeglasses Sebastian Laws stares at small brass gears and springs at a work bench where his father taught him how to repair clocks. Some of the clocks hanging on the walls have been around for so long Laws isn’t sure how they got there.

This is Sutton Clocks, a second floor shop on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 61st Street in Manhattan. The repair shop has stood watch over this intersection for close to 60 years.

As the digital world rushes by the large windows of his shop, Laws keeps the analog world moving on time.

“A clock is more than something that just tells time. It’s actually a piece, an heirloom, that’s been with a family for years and years…. And with the good clocks, there’s no limit to how long they’ll last. These good brass mechanisms are two hundred years old and they still work almost as good as new if they are properly maintained.” [2:09]

Every inch of available space inside the store is filled with clocks of all shapes, sizes and ages. They range from 1960’s era wind-up bedside alarm clocks to stately grandfather clocks from the 19th century.

“There’s never really two with exactly the same problem. Sometimes it’s not blatant. Like sometimes something is broken and you can see it. But sometimes it’s a very nuanced problem so you have to sort of think about it and you’ve got to contemplate a lot. You’ve got to take your time.” [2:53]

Regardless of how old they are and where they came from, Laws gives them the same attention to detail. His goal: to get the hands of time moving again.

“How does time start? Does it end? You know everything has to have a beginning and end but I just think that questions… like you can keep yourself up for years and years trying to contemplate that.” [4:21]

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Beth H

    The philosopher king! He fixes the darn things plus puts them (land time) into perspective. Gotta' love it.

    July 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cliff Hesse

    Nice feature piece! One of the multitude of interesting stories in New York. Time marches on!

    July 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |