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Timekeeping Makes This Couple Tick

With more than 1,300 clocks -- and counting -- this Indiana couple has built a timeless collection.

IT STARTED with only one. Like any collection, there's always a first. But it was a special moment for Richard Clutter of Geneva. He inherited a beautiful antique clock made by William Gilbert, one of the foremost American clockmakers of the 19th century. The rest of the story is a time line like none other.

That was back in 1993, and since that day, Richard and his wife, Judy, have steadily acquired 1,300 clocks, many of which are displayed in their home and in Richard's workshop.

Each timepiece was handpicked at an auction or discovered at a variety of stores over the years. Many were presented as "the perfect gift" for this clock-loving couple.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter how or where they got each timepiece. The Clutters' fascination for all things that tick and tock hasn't lost a beat from day one.

Timeless Work

Not every clock comes to the collection in working condition. Together, Richard and Judy have become experts in clock repair, somewhat out of necessity. Judy typically cleans the wood and exteriors, while Richard specializes on the insides. He learned clock repair from books, courses and, of course, a lot of experience on the clock. At any one time, he has dozens of timepieces in his shop in various stages of repair.

Among those waiting to be fixed is one of their prized possessions -- a clock made by German clockmaker Florenz Kroeber in the 1800s. Richard carefully attaches the broken front glass door and gently works on the all-wood gears inside.

"Hundreds of years ago, wood was used before metal on clocks," he explains.

Richard and Judy guess that the oldest working clock they own is from around 1850 -- they purchased it at an auction in Bluffton.

"It has reverse painting on the inside glass, making it very special," says Richard.

If Clocks Could Tock

While intricate carvings and designs make the old clocks works of art, the couple is just as happy with their whimsical, non-antique clocks, such as the Disney collection purchased at a nearby Walmart.

The always-interesting retro clocks get lots of attention. Their colorful Mi-Ken Japanese clocks, displayed on an entire wall of their home, date from the early 1950s through the '60s.

Among the 150 clocks that hang in the Clutters' kitchen, none are more treasured than the blue Delft plate clocks decorated with windmills. The smaller clocks in this grouping were likely given to children, while the large utilitarian models often hung in lobbies or were prominently displayed on mantels.

Several clocks are beyond description -- a regulator clock invented in the late 18th century that would have been used in a store; a clock that looks like a tape measure and tells time by the numbers on the tape; an Automatic Electric Company clock that, ironically, runs on batteries; and two clocks that resemble banjos.

While many of the clocks in the collection need to be wound, the truth is there just isn't enough time in the day to keep all in sync. Those known as 1-day clocks need to be wound every 30 hours. Others called 8-day clocks can be wound weekly. And a few, known as 1-month clocks, must be tended only once every 30 days. Sometimes, the Clutters don't bother with all of the models. Doesn't matter. They have never been late!

A Chime Above the Rest

With so many choices, it's difficult for the couple to put their hand on a favorite clock. But Richard does have a fondness for a petite cuckoo with a tiny door that opens as a quail quaintly chirps the hour.

He also appreciates the melodies from the family of clocks in the living room. The grandfather clock chimes deep and loud, while the grandmother clock dependably ticktocks nearby. A smaller granddaughter clock (who knew there was such a thing?) sits quietly across the room, politely waiting to be noticed.

With so many clocks already in their possession, the Clutters say they are still looking for new and unusual timepieces, with a careful eye.

"We're not looking for anything in particular," says Richard over the chorus of clocks keeping time. "We just keep our eyes open for anything that catches our attention." After all, time is on their side.

Show Us Your Collection.

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"Crossroad Collections"
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