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German collector turns back time as clocks go forward

German collector turns back time as clocks go forward

Saturday, March 30, 2024, 15:48 GMT+7
German collector turns back time as clocks go forward
Some 366 clocks cover the walls in the living room of 76-year-old Werner Stechbarth's apartment in Munich. Photo: AFP

Some 366 clocks cover the walls in the living room of 76-year-old Werner Stechbarth's apartment in Munich, the haul from a life spent criss-crossing the globe.

The yearly move to daylight saving time is a busy period for the pensioner, who has to manually adjust every one of his timepieces.

Work started well ahead of the beginning of European summer time early Sunday morning, when the continent's clocks will skip forward an hour.

"I start one or two weeks before and I continue after the clocks change, stress free," Stechbarth told AFP, sitting in his lounge.

His collection includes not just classic mechanical clocks but a few digital models with LED displays.

Each timepiece is set to a slightly different time to avoid them striking in unison at the top of every hour.

All the same, the room is filled with the sound of ticking and the intermittent whistle of a cuckoo.

As a chef for the German national carrier Lufthansa, Stechbarth had access to cheap airline tickets, which he used to travel the globe collecting clocks.

"The first is from Mexico, I brought it back in 1975. It was my mother's idea," he said, picking out a Coca-Cola branded piece in pride of place by the window.

For every clock, a story

Every clock comes with its own story. Stechbarth recalled how he forgot to take the batteries out of a souvenir he was bringing back from Tunisia.

"I will let you guess what the people at airport security thought when they heard the ticking in my suitcase," he said with a laugh.

Stechbarth missed his flight but was eventually allowed to return to Munich with his timepiece in tow.

The retiree travels less now but still shops for clocks online or in the local antiques shops.

His initial goal to have a clock for every day of the year -- a target of 366 for leap years like 2024 -- was reached long ago.

Excess items in his collection are kept in the basement.

The collector himself carries a watch on each wrist and another round his neck, but still manages to be late.

"I used to be punctual when I was working. Now if it is six or seven o'clock -- it's all the same to me," he said.

As the day fades, "I sit in my armchair, turn off the television and listen to the ticking of the clocks."

After an evening's entertainment, Stechbarth usually retreats to his bedroom, which he has furnished modestly with two pieces from his collection.

AFP

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