s a young boy growing up in London, John Metcalfe found an old clock in his grandmother's woodshed. "I wouldn't go as far as to say I repaired it," Metcalfe told me during my first visit to his Beekman Street workshop in downtown Manhattan. "I put some oil in it, shook it, and it started to work. I have been working on clocks ever since."
The 1960s, as Metcalfe recalls, were a great time to take up clock restoration as a hobby. Many people were throwing away nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century clocks as junk, and he eventually amassed some 150 of them in his childhood bedroom. "Some of them were good clocks and some of them awful, but I didn't know enough to discriminate between them," Metcalfe says.