New Bay St. business one to watch

John Pope has always been fascinated with time pieces.

And now that fascination has turned into his livelihood, with Pope’s Watch & Clock Repair located at 100 Frederick in downtown Port Orchard.

Like a lot of people before him, Pope got into the business first as a hobbyist, helping a neighbor work on old clocks.

After high school, he did about 12 years as an apprentice, getting formal training from a master watchmaker that included clock and watch repair and then watch making.

After years of bouncing around from repair jobs and working with robotics, Pope finally decided it was time to open his own store and decided Port Orchard would be the perfect place.

“There’s definitely a market for it, a lot of people want their timepieces fixed,” Pope said.

There isn’t a time piece that Pope hasn’t — or can’t — repair, anything from classic grandfather clocks to wristwatches, pocket watches and just about any kind of wall clock.

His skills include making replacement parts for some pieces to simple repairs to full-blown restoration. He just finished restoring his own wristwatch, a 1941 Hamilton piece.

“It’s the only profession that I know of where I have to have at least 400 years of engineering knowledge to do my job,” Pope said. “I have to know the engineering of that time period as well as what was manufactured yesterday.”

That kind of knowledge comes in handy when he’s faced with repairing or restoring grandfather clocks tbuilt in the 1700 or 1800s. And he is currently working on two from that time period.

One piece Pope is in the process of repairing is a grandfather clock built in 1812 but that hasn’t worked correctly for more than 100 years.

Another clock he has in his shop was built in 1750.

Part of the fun, Pope said, is learning the stories behind some of the time pieces he fixes. Like the 1812 grandfather that survived the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 or some of the other pieces that were built in Europe and have migrated as far west as Washington over the years.

“It’s a lot of knowledge, it’s a lot of history,” Pope said. “And it’s so scattered about that it’s very difficult to collect it all and get it going.”

But his trade is also one that’s slowly disappearing. Pope estimates there are only about 3,000 certified watchmakers left in the country, and that number continues to decrease with each passing year.

In fact, the number of schools in the country that even teach the trade has dwindled below 10.

But he said he will keep the trade going as long as he can with the hopes of passing his knowledge on to others.

Pope said there are three basic services he provides, and the cost and time reflect each service, whether it is basic repair to just get a piece working again up to full restoration, which is very time consuming and on the higher end of the cost scale.

“People bring things in to have them serviced not because they’re worth a lot,” Pope said. “It’s because they have sentimental value. So I have to do a good job because I can’t replace an item that has been with them forever.”

Pope’s Watch and Clock is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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