Contemporary Thrifting with Amy

Vintage Clocks

ClocksWant something like this midcentury beauty? Good luck. They’re grabbed up before the sun sets.

Have you ever met a clock person? If or when, you’ll never forget. They’re avid, dedicated creatures from another planet. Seems there’s no in between with clock/watch people. I love these enthusiasts.

Why am I such a know-it-all? Years back, I bought the multigenerational Moeller Store Building on Callow Avenue in Bremerton. I never met John Moeller, the famous clock man. He died within a matter of months before my purchase. His lunch was still in the backroom refrigerator.

I rolled back the iron gate that day, then unlocking the door, I entered a strange world. Old store merchandise and watch/clock parts were floor to ceiling, and a wicked smell permeated the air. There was smell from the chemicals with crossbones poison warnings and a sour smell from dried-up floor drain traps. And the noise, oh, the noise! The clanging, ticking and ringing. I didn’t know a watch from a wrist band, yet there I stood, surrounded by thousands and thousands of old clocks, watches and parts.

There were dozens, probably hundreds, of very old windups. So many, I gathered them up for a display in the huge antique display cabinet. The watchmaker’s bench and all the bells and whistles were there, and we donated them to the Kitsap History Museum. The museum created a little Moeller store, which I dedicated to my dad, George Allen, and it can be seen upon visiting the museum.

Recently, I wanted to explore clocks and watches in the thrifting world, which only verified my original theory of collectors’ excessive enthusiasm.

While at the HUB thrift shop in Belfair, I met worker James Dettmar, who inspects donated clocks and watches. It was like a confetti party. We stood in the isle, the store director joining in, along with an eBay specialist who heard us talking. Yes, what a popular subject — even broken-down clocks are purchased for parts.

I was also told by several that old, workable men’s wrist watches are trendy. Most often, the collectible vintage clocks and watches are not seen in store, but rather offered online.

I often conclude with thrifting advice, but for the first time, I don’t have any advice. You’re either in or out. When it comes to clocks and watches, there’s no in-between.