The clock that hasn’t worked since early 1990s has been restored by a Nashik-based machinist, the country’s foremost expert on turret clocks.
Vijay Khadke, the 62-year machinist from Nashik who led a four member team to restore the Crawford Market clock, says the iconic clock is practically maintenance free, and only requires servicing annually.
Khadke (pictured) was given the go-ahead by the BMC to replace the old key system machine of the four-dial clock with an electronic mechanism in November 2017. The team set the turret clock right this Tuesday, pulling it off in four days, working eight to ten hours a day.
“In the old days, the system was mechanical and the device relied heavily on physics and employed weights. It required a lot of maintenance – weekly levelling, winding and lubrication. Now, the clock runs on electricity, has abattery for backup power supply and, it’s practically maintenance free. It only requires servicing annually. If this is done, you can count on it ticking for another 100 years,” Khadke said.
“It’s not a British-era timepiece,” Khadke clarified. “The original clock set in that spot back in the 1880s was, but that has since been replaced. The clock mechanism has four faces/dials, each with a diameter of 6.5 feet. Three of these had missing parts and one had to be made from scratch,” said Khadke. He told Mirror that the last time it was repaired (not by his firm) was in 1993.
Khadke, who has a BA in Psychology, learnt all about watches from his father. “I used to watch him with interest, and started working with him when I was 20. We went from repairing wristwatches, to fixing alarm clocks and grandfather clocks, and eventually, I started working on tower clocks,” Khadke said.
In the 42 years since he started working at Ganesh Watch Company, the wristwatch repair shop his father Manohar set up in 1955, Khadke’s expertise has transformed it from a small workshop in Nashik’s Raviwar Peth, to a three-floor store that includes a multi-brand watch and clock showroom. His firm also undertakes the repair work for time-recording systems, used by firms to register employee attendance.
Khadke said his first turret clock assignment came from the Nashik Municipal Corporation
, sometime in the 1980s. Since then, he has worked on numerous tower clocks, projects he had to detail for architect Abha Narain Lambah when she first met with him regarding the restoration of the Crawford Market (now, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai) clock back in November 2015.
Explaining the two-yearhiatus, Khadke said, “They wanted to finish the building repair work first.”
Lambah, who specialises in conservation architecture, has been engaged in the herculean task of restoring the market for nine years. The proverbial clock’s also ticking for her now, as the makeover was to be completed in time for the market’s 150th anniversary – the foundation stone on the structure says it was erected in 1868. “She wanted to gauge if I understood what heritage restoration work involved. I told her I had worked on Shimla’s Christ Church clock, and on the clock in Rajkot’s Raiya Naka and Bedi Naka. I restored both of those heritage clocks about five years ago. In Baroda, I have restored seven heritage clocks.”
Though one newspaper reported that the BMC spent Rs 13 lakh to restore the Crawford Market clock, Khadke told Mirror that constructing a brand new turret clock and restoring old ones, both, cost between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. The biggest turret clock he’s built stands at Delhi Public School, and the tab for that device (it measures 12 feet by 12 feet) was Rs 9 lakh. “The main avenues of expense are labour and the transport of tools and materials,” said Khadke who has also built new turret clocks for Hindustan Petroleum’s refinery in Chembur and for an SD Corporation township in Kandivali.