Step back in time and meet Nick Pliagas
Time matters whether its the simple observation of the stars, changes in the seasons, or day and night.. from the beginning, prehistoric man needed to measure nomadic activities to tell time.
When you travel to Solvang California you become immersed in an environment that appreciates, in fact celebrates the passing of time honored traditions. Whether it’s food focused on timeless Danish style cuisine, or old fashioned candle makers, hand made chocolatiers, farmers who grow a delicious variety of organic apples and shop keepers who earn a living dipping them in hand- spun caramel, visitors who come here can find places that beckon a slower paced lifestyle. Thus, time becomes more valuable.
Before clocks and watches we had sundials, hourglass and water clocks. Another ancient time measurer was the water clock or clepsydra. It was a evenly marked container with a spout in which water dripped out. As the water dripped out of the container one could note by the water level against the markings what time it was.
The art of telling time soon became mechanical in the 1300’s when mechanical clocks, which used weights or springs, began to appear. These early mechanical clocks worked by using an escapement, a lever that pivoted and meshed with a toothed wheel at certain intervals. This controlled the movement, or “escape” of either the weights or the springs that were powering the clock, in order to regulate the speed at which the gears and wheels which measured the time turned.
Fast forward to the early 1800’s, when one of the most important events in clock making occurred. Eli Terry developed machines, patterns, and techniques that produced clock parts that were exactly alike, so they could be mass-produced and interchanged from one clock to another. This drove the price of clocks way down, and allowed common people to own at least one, if not many, timekeeping devices.
And at the dawn of the 20th century only women wore wristwatches. No self-respecting “real man” would wear one. However, in the first World War, soldiers wore wristwatches because taking out a pocket watch to check the time was difficult or impossible in battle. Half a century later, digital watches, which used electrical currents running through quartz crystals to cause vibration and tell the time very accurately, began to appear.
The next great advancement in timekeeping was in 1967, when the atomic clock, which used the oscillations of cesium-133 atoms to tell time, was invented. This clock had an error ratio of 1 second for every 1.4 million years. Recently, in 1999, scientists developed the cesium fountain atomic clock, which is off by only one second every 20 million years. This clock is the most accurate in the world.
There are very few masters in this field who can restore and repair rare horological instruments. Nick Pilagas is a self-taught expert. In fact, his skills and knowledge are so rare that it is essential that he mentors others so that these one-0f-a-kind antiquities, do not sit unused instead become purchased for enjoyment or gifted to museums educational purposes.
The evolution of some of these very rare European time pieces like the ones demonstrated, were equivalent to flat screen televisions; people watched the masterfully designed theatrical interiors as they came to life which told stories about that time period but today they give us a pictorial glimpse as to what that lifestyle might have been like.
Visiting Nick’s repair shop, makes you want to trade your Apple smartwatch for a horological antique that keeps real time and honors every moment.
Today’s time pieces are some of the most expensive in the world.
The Prince de Conti’s Planetary Clock
Visit Nick Pliagas at 490 First Street Solvang, CA 93463