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A Matter of Time: Learning the ins and outs of clockwork in the Eternal City

2013-04-14

DANILO PAULETTI
Elis Formation School (Rome)

"I like it better than working with technology. I would much rather work on a mechanical clock than on a new cell phone.”

Wearing their white coats, they grab each tiny item, piece by piece, with the precision of a surgeon. About 20 teenagers are enrolled in this three year program at the Elis Formation School, which is actually the only program of its kind in Rome. The teacher is a former student.

CLAUDIO MARGRELLI
Elis Formation School, Teacher

"When I was a student, everyone would tell me the clock industry was dead because technology was taking over. That's not how things have worked out. All the big name brands still carry mechanical clocks, not digital.”
Most of the students are between 14 and 16 years old. Apparently their future looks bright. When it comes to the economic crisis, apparently the industry hasn't been directly affected.

CLAUDIO MARGRELLI
Elis Formation School, Teacher

"We actually haven't felt the crisis, because people fix their high end watches. Maybe they won't buy a new one, but they take care of the one they have.”

Students are also learning real world skills. About six years ago, the school 'adopted' Rome's L'Orologio del Pincio, which is an ancient water clock that was basically unkept by the city.  Thanks to the students, now the handles move, with every synchronized drop of water.

LUCA MANZO
Elis Formation School (Rome)

"We go check on the Pincio Clock, so we wash it, clean out the water and make sure all the equipment works.”

Just like a car needs a mechanic every now and then, watches need their maintenance as well. These students say, it's refreshing to know that even as time passes in the Eternal City, there are some jobs that simply can't be replaced by technology.

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