For many Horological Society of New York members, it’s fulfilling enough to attend monthly lectures and celebrate the Society at the annual gala. For Justin Shellenberger, becoming part of America’s oldest watchmaking guild led to great advancements in his scholastic and professional career.
A graduate of Rolex’s prestigious Lititz Watch Technicum in Pennsylvania, Shellenberger discovered his love of horology when he picked up a book on the subject. His background in physics helped him to understand many of the finer details of the theory and he soon enrolled in the school to build the experience and skills necessary to be successful. He first learned about HSNY in 2016 when the school posted application details of HSNY’s first Henry B. Fried Scholarship, created to assist watchmaking students succeed in their studies and help cover equipment costs. After careful review by HSNY’s board, Shellenberger became the first student to receive the scholarship in 2017. Little did he know HSNY would present him with an opportunity to repair a one-of-a-kind clock.
An Opportune Time
As HSNY President Nicholas Manousos was walking through the General Society building – a landmark beauty built in 1890 which is home to HSNY’s office and classroom – he noticed a beautiful Seth Thomas regulator clock in the Executive Office on the mezzanine was not running. After investigation, Manousos discovered the clock dating back to the 1800s had been broken for some time. Naturally, HSNY decided to step in and offer to repair the antique.
“Justin immediately came to mind as the man for the job,” said Manousos. “He’s very skilled in clock repair and HSNY is always looking for ways to help our community and involve our members.”
In addition to repairing the clock which was revealed to have a severely damaged calendar, Shellenberger was tasked with creating new parts, including a calendar hand which he redesigned with the General Society’s arm and hammer logo.
“I came up with the idea to customize the hand as an ode to the building in which the clock is housed,” said Shellenberger. “Returning the Seth Thomas clock to working conditions while trying to not represent the repair as falsely original was important given its age and history. I’m glad the General Society met my suggestion to add a new memento with such enthusiasm.”
"We are so grateful for the magnificent restoration of our precious 19th century-old Executive Office Clock," said Victoria A. Dengel, Executive Director of The General Society. "Justin gave a treasured work of craftsmanship new life through the dedicated work of his hands. His masterful work in restoring the Society's precious clock will be recalled as a very special moment in the history of the General Society."
News spreads fast and since then, Shellenberger has repaired an English tall case clock also on 44th street at the legendary Algonquin Hotel. (The clock had been standing in their lobby since the early 1900s when it was taken as payment for an unpaid bill.)
“Joining HSNY has proven to be an incredibly beneficial relationship so far,” said Shellenberger. “Helping me fund my watchmaking studies is something I’ll never forget but having the opportunity to put my practice to work and preserve history is the icing on the cake.”
Check out Justin Shellenberger's website - https://tidsmed.com.