Quirky work: Clock repairman still ticking along and relevant in the digital age

Peter Landmark, who has been running a repair shop in Edmonton for more than 20 years, says the clock repair craft hasn’t changed much and his skills will be required for many years to come.

‘If you don’t fix them properly you are out of business’

Traditional clock repair technician shows his tricks to keep up with the times. 2:04

For Peter Landmark, the timing was right when the chance came along more than three decades ago to help a friend in a family clock-repair shop.

Landmark, now 64, was given rent-free accommodation and on-the-job training at Sherwood Clocks in the Beverly neighbourhood.

Ten years later he was ready to go out on his own, opening Landmark Clock Shop in the Meadowlark area.

Boxes of spare parts fill the Landmark clock repair shop. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

"Most of it you have to learn on the job. You have to get proficient at it which takes years of practice and experience to find out what is wrong and fix it," he says.

But with more watches going digital, you might think time is running out on clock repairers.

According to Landmark the future of the business is looking up and sometimes, for him, way up.

The City of Edmonton calls on his skills to repair and maintain the Friendship Tower clock at city hall.

The clock tower at city hall. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

Landmark, who is not comfortable working at heights, is required to go to the top of the 60-metre tower.

The toughest part of the job? Not fine tuning the massive clockworks, but removing the four-metre minute hand to treat it with a weatherproof coating.

Often, such jobs come to Landmark through word of mouth, meaning you're only as good as your last repair.

"If you are doing them right, the customers are happy, word gets around really fast," he says. "If you don't fix them properly you are out of business."

These days a lot of his business comes from people who have inherited watches or picked one up while travelling and have develeped a sentimental attachment to the timepieces.

"Getting them fixed like new brings back memories for the customers. That's pretty awesome," Landmark says.

High-end luxury watches are also still in demand and not likely to go out of style, he says.
Clock parts cover a repair bench at Landmark Clock Repair Shop. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

"As long as they are buying them, there is a need for repair and servicing."

Landmark maintains the clock repair craft hasn't changed much even as tools become more advanced.

"You still have to know what you are doing to keep things right."

Landmark is one of 25 Edmontonians doing interesting jobs in our community profiled in a special edition of Our Edmonton called Quirky Work.

Quirky Work on Our Edmonton, Sunday at noon and Monday at 11 a.m.