With the clock delay in Britain by an hour due to winter time, the watchmaker at Windsor Castle in England will have the heavy task of changing the timing of more than 400 hours of the Royal Collection Trust.
For those who have smartphones and smart watches, the timing change to match Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) happened automatically on Sunday 25 October, while they slept and effortlessly.
However, the situation will be different for the hundreds of watches from the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, as all clocks must be manually changed to ensure accurate timekeeping for castle visitors and residents.
Fyodor van den Bruck, the current watch keeper at the 900-year-old historic castle, is doing the job.
This is the first time that the new supervisor will delay the timing of the hours by an hour, since he took office recently.
The mission will start over the weekend, and Fyodor plans to spend about 16 hours changing the castle’s 400 hours, including about 250 hours inside the castle itself, along with a seven-hour tower.
“I’m on my own (doing the job here), and another colleague at Buckingham Palace changes all the hours there,” Fyodor told the BBC.
For some hours, there is an additional time lag that needs to be taken into account.
“People are still amazed that there is a different time zone in the kitchens, both in Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, where clocks are always presented five minutes,” he added.
“The point of this is to prepare and deliver food on time … It is a constant reminder that this is important.”
Fyodor does more than change the timing. He spends an entire day a week winding and winding mechanical watches to keep the pendulum swinging.
On this day, he has to walk about 16 thousand steps to pass and wind all mechanical watches.
He says about this, “I check all the clocks in the official residences inside the castle, before the public arrives, to ensure the timing is accurate.”
The official places of residence are those where the Queen hosts official visits by heads of other states, and celebrations of imitation of positions and titles as well as awarding of awards and decorations are held.
And he confirms that most of the hours are completely accurate, but from time to time, without reason, the time changes either by moving forward or delaying suddenly, which is something that I have just started calling “life”.
“So I have to watch it (hours) constantly.”
Fyodor spends the rest of the week in his workshop maintaining and repairing watches, many of which are between 200 and 300 years old.
And when a part breaks or corrodes it prepares the replacement using hand tools, a lathe and a metal forming machine.
About his work, Fyodor says: “(It was said that) clocks were a way to bring God into your home, because God makes time, and man made a machine (the clock) to know the time.”
“(Watches) were the supercomputers of their era.”
One of the clocks that Fyodor takes care of is an ornate French clock in the formal dining room.
It was said to have been Queen Victorias favorite watch, and it was gifted by the King of France, Louis-Philippe in 1844.
So a huge painting of Queen Victoria was placed on a wall behind this clock.
The clock has three panels on its sides that represent the three ages of chronology (the art of watchmaking).
The plaque on the front of the clock depicts the first astronomical clock in Padua City Hall, Italy, in 1364.
On the left side is a painting depicting the Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens displaying the first pendulum clock invented in 1656, and on the right side is a painting of a member of the Senate in ancient Rome holding a water clock.
The rest of the watch case is decorated with wreaths of leaves, medals, and famous watchmakers figures.
Another clock related to Queen Victorias reign is the large organ clock in the king’s drawing room, which includes the Bible that the king placed inside a box of rock crystal.
Approximately 1.8 meters high, it was made by Charles Clay in 1740 and plays music by George Frederick Handel, four of which are made specifically for watches.
Clay and Handel often worked together making organ watches, a number of which went to the royal families of Europe.
“This instrument was more than an hour,” says Fyodor. “It was supposed to be an instrument of music.”
Inside the base of the watch there is a copper barrel and the fingers of the organ, beside a bellows that blow air through the flutes.
The Bible in the crystal box was owned by General Gordon, who was killed in Khartoum in 1885.
The box itself was made by Melchior Baumgartner, who wrote in German on a panel of the interior: “This box was made in Augsburg and painted in silver in 1664.”
At each corner of the hour there is a gilded bronze statue of Greek deities.
And in the upper part is a small statue of Saint George killing the dragon, made by Francesco Vanelli, and it was added during the reign of King George IV in the nineteenth century.
One of Fyodor’s favorite clocks is those that depict the Greek mythical characters Kronos (father’s time) and education, and the clock is a globe that is hung on a stand and revolves around itself and the clock numbers are drawn around it, and the sickle carried by Kronos plays the role of a hand as it indicates the exact time written on the ball.
“It’s a very dynamic scene, there is a lot of movement,” says Fyodor.
“At first you see that this is a statue, it is a piece of art, then secondly you realize that it is a watch.”
Below the clock is a small sculpture representing an open book, surrounded by objects for learning: a guitar, an artist’s painting and a protractor.
“I have seen multiple pictures of this watch and they all offer a slightly different explanation from each other,” he adds.
The figures are made of bronze and the base is made of marble. The watch weighs about 90 kg. “You need three men to move it.”
The watch face is engraved with the name of the French designer of the original movements, Charles Guillaume Magnier.
“It is one of my favorite watches in terms of performance, because I maintained it three months ago and since then I’ve kept the perfect time.”
Another hour that praises learning, specifically learning the arts, is the mantel clock in the Chrismon drawing room.
The Greek god Apollo can be seen standing leaning on the watch and at his feet is a carved lady’s head, with the phrase “Genius of Arts” written on its front.
The watch was commissioned by King George IV when he was Prince of Wales, as evidenced by the three-feathered logo on the front.
The watch case was made by Pierre Philippe Thomer, a Parisian bronze maker and specialist in gilding in the early nineteenth century, and the internal parts of the movement were made by Benjamin Folliamy, watchmaker for King George III from 1773.
The stunning fireplace mantel surrounding this clock was made by George John Folliamy, an engineer who specializes in bronze who also made the dolphins’ lighting poles seen along the Thames Bridge near Westminster Palace.
“You cannot set a price for these types of watches,” says Fyodor.
“There is historical value, origin and lots of watches in just one copy, so they are priceless.”
Every hour is fully serviced over a period of 10 to 15 years, and Fyodor disassembles and cleans it.
“There will be a bit of wear (of the parts) that will need to be repaired, after which I will lubricate the internal movement and gears and reassemble the watch completely.”
There has been an indoor watchmaster at Windsor Castle since the late 1970s, and new Supervisor Fyodor is the fourth to hold the position.
“The former official worked here for 20 years, and his predecessor worked for about 30 years, so I think he worked for life.”
“I am grateful that I was able to get this job so early in my career, so I hope to be here for a long time.”