My name is Jesús Ramón Rodríguez Burgo. I am the clockmaker of the City Historian’s Office, as part of its Restoration and Conservation Department. My job is to restore clock mechanisms. I began working with clocks with my father, a clockmaker who got me interested in the trade. Later on, I attended the Clockmaker’s School, which gave me the foundations I needed to work with antique clocks.
At the age of 18, more or less, I fixed my first clock, a Russian alarm clock that was common at the time. Once, something very interesting and funny happened to me. I was working in a repair-shop complex and somebody brought me a Swiss-made alarm clock. It had a very tiny mechanism, almost wristwatch-size. I remember that I took it apart, cleaned it and made it work, and delivered it ready to go. But the next day, the customer came to complain. Just imagine, I had done everything right and I didn’t understand what the problem could be. So I opened it and found that an ant had gotten inside the mechanism and stopped the clock. It was unbelievable, and it was funny.
The oldest clock that I’ve ever repaired is in one of the display cases of the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (Palace of the Captain-Generals). It is an 18th century clock that has a chime system, meaning it gives a stroke or chime similar to that of a wall clock. It was not destroyed, but it had not worked in more than 100 years. I took it apart completely. The mechanism was quite complex, but I cleaned it, oiled it, adjusted it and got it running. I also had the honor of repairing the clock that belonged to Félix Varela.
Monumental clocks, like those of the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the Lonja del Comercio and the train station, are a bit complex to work on because of their size. You can’t sit down at a table with them. The tools used to repair them are very large, and sometimes it takes two people to handle them. Personally, the clocks I prefer to repair are grandfather or floor clocks. I like those clocks because I think they are prettier, more interesting and more complicated. For my personal use, I have a Seiko, but if I had my druthers, I would like one of the modern Cuervo y Sobrinos.