Although he does not know the Vázquez family, he said he had met other people across the country who, like them, were putting in the time to care for the antique clocks in their communities. He has also seen the flip side: cases in which public clocks have been abandoned — or brought in for major restorations only to be brought back years later, again in disrepair.
“In general, there is little commitment among people today to maintain these gems,” he said.
Raúl Vázquez said he started looking after the public clock in San Miguel around 1980. For some two decades, he did it voluntarily, he said, as a favor to a local German woman whose watchmaker father had maintained the clock for years before his death.
At the time, Mr. Vázquez had no experience with monumental clocks, only watches, but he took a look and saw that he could figure it out. Eventually, the municipal government hired him as the clock’s custodian.
He remembers the work fondly, saying that the tower became a place where he could put aside any worries. Once in a while, he added, he would go there to cry — or, if he was feeling lighthearted, “I can sing there, and nobody hears me.”
Over the years, maintaining “the people’s clock,” as he called it, taught him how to value things and take care of them so they will last. “We have cared for it with dedication, with tenderness.”
And he still marvels at the quality of the timepiece. “I think that it could still keep going for another 100 years,” he said.