The story of Ali Rıza Balcı's meeting with watches started during his university years.
While studying history at Istanbul University, he learned how to repair mechanical pocket watches from his master in the Grand Bazaar. Since then - for nearly 40 years - he has been repairing family heirlooms of customers and pocket watches of 200-300 years, each more valuable than the other, brought by collectors.
Balcı said that there are watchmaking schools in most countries in Europe. “One of the greatest ideals of many of us as watchmakers was to have a watchmaking school in Turkey and finally the first Micromechanics and Watch Technologies Department was opened in Bursa last month.
Watchmaking is a culture and a trend, it is important for the new generation to continue this culture.” he expresses his views.
“The watch is like a living organism.
Every hour waits for another hour; because we make up the missing pieces with the pieces of the newcomers, and that hour comes to life.” Balcı, who says that watchmaking does not forgive even a small mistake, does his work with extraordinary meticulousness.
Mechanical watches continue to be kept alive by watchmakers. Palace, pocket, wall and tower clocks from the past to the present are among the most valuable witnesses of the time. We met with four watchmakers living in Istanbul and talked about the world of watches that they meticulously repaired in their workshops.
The watchmaker Recep Gürgen, who has been preparing the clock collections in the Topkapı Palace and Dolmabahçe Palace museums for exhibition for many years, in his workshop in Karaköy.
The walls and tables are filled with clocks I've never seen before. All standing tall as witnesses of a different era. Gürgen understands the language of every watch, but he is actually a palace watchmaker. He met his profession in the 1960s, when he was 14 years old.
A few years after learning the basics of watch repair, II. He started to work with Wolfgang Meyer, the grandson of German origin Johann Meyer, who was the watchmaker of Abdulhamid, and thus the adventure of palace clocks began.
“The construction of palace clocks is different. Because there were so many rooms in palaces, there were many clocks. Only Topkapi Palace had 300 hours and Dolmabahce Palace had 200 hours. While working with my master Wolfgang Meyer, I had the opportunity to maintain and repair these watches.” I'm startled by the "gong" sound of an antique clock.
The flamboyant large clock on the table next to me draws my attention. Adorned with handcrafted ornaments and inscriptions in Ottoman Turkish, this watch is no different from a work of art. Stating that the watch was produced in the Haliç shipyard in the late 1800s, Gürgen said, “In the past, the most important inventions were made by the state.