WILLIAM SCOLNIK
Precision Horology
WILLIAM SCOLNIK
Precision Horology

A very brief biography


For almost of my adult life, I’ve had an abiding interest in time. I really can’t say why that’s the case but I realize now at 76, that most of the things I’ve done over my lifetime led in one direction.  My interest in things related to time and timekeeping, precision time in particular, took me along an interesting and at times a rewarding path. After graduating as an Electrical Engineer, I worked at that profession quite successfully for a few years, but it wasn’t completely satisfying. In the early 60’s I started a business restoring and dealing in mechanical musical instruments which eventually lead to repairing, restoring, buying and selling rather interesting timepieces and automata. One day while visiting a dealer friend of mine, I noticed in his basement a rather unusual clock. I made an offer for it and it was eventually mine. The clock was a fine 18th Century organ clock made by Pierrre Jacquet-Droz. I spent several months restoring the clock and advertised it for sale. One evening I received a telephone call from Seth Atwood. He had seen my advertisement and had recently become interested in clocks. He eventually purchased this clock and visited me in New Jersey. He told me that it was his first clock purchase and he appeared to be extremely pleased when he saw the clock. Seth eventually went on to create the Time Museum, one of the great clock museums in the world which has since been dispersed. Years went by and in the late 60’s I became interested in pocket watches. I apprenticed to a well trained Russian watchmaker for many years and became a restorer, dealer and expert in complicated pocket watches.


During my frequent horological travels in Europe during that period, I had the opportunity to visit many museums in England and on the Continent. I became aware of an unusual class of clocks that were amazingly interesting to me and were directed to one end – precision timekeeping. They appealed to me from many points of view. They were invariably mechanically interesting and they combined mechanics with electricity to create precision time and the creators and inventors of these clocks were scientists in the true sense of the word.


I started collecting precision electromechanical timepieces more than 40 years ago. As the years passed, I refined my collection to what I thought were the best and most interesting of these clocks. Because of the esoteric nature of precision time, by most standards, few of these clocks were produced. I expect that because they were not “decorative” in appearance, and as they fell into disuse and as better standards were produced, they were not preserved. As a result of this, very few really important precision electromechanical clocks survived. The fact that clocks of this type were produced for only 50 years or so also added to the few surviving number. I’ve had a great deal of pleasure and excitement over the years pursuing these clocks, understanding them and working on them. It has been a great part of my life and I would have to say most satisfying.


If you’re interested in viewing a PDF of some of the clocks I’ve had in my collection

CLICK HERE