Time is precious, says Vietnamese collector of European church clocks

Hanoi: For greater than twenty years, Pham Van Thuoc has scoured Europe searching for historic church clocks, bringing them again to his residence in Vietnam where he lovingly restores them.

He now has 20 clocks – many of which are more than a hundred years old and including one so big it weighs a tonne – housed in a warehouse in northern Thai Binh province where they fill the air with a cacophony of whirring noises, ticking and chimes.

Thuoc, who believes his collection is undoubtedly one of the largest in the world, mentioned the fun of constructing it up lies not simply within the hunt to search out stunning outdated clocks, but additionally in determining how they work and how you can repair them.

“I have an Italian made-clock which is the oldest one and dates back to the year 1750. Probably the thing I like most about it is that despite being made years ago, it has stayed true to its purpose which is to count the time, and it does that extremely accurately,” he said.

Tracing his passion back to hearing the chimes of bells from French Colonial-era Clock towers when he was a boy, Thuoc said he once spent two years befriending a European owner before convincing him to part with a particular clock. He provides that he has but to see two identical historic clocks even when the clocks had been made in the identical year by the identical producer.

For his efforts, Thuoc has been recognised by the Vietnam Records Association as he has the largest collection of public clocks in the country. And with electronic clocks now fast replacing mechanical ones in Europe, he hopes his collection can preserve a sliver of vanishing history.

The clocks remind him, he says, of “how valuable time is, and that I should treasure every minute and every second.”

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