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The Watchmaker

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"If you can understand the complexities of a watch you can understand anything. Everything. Cause, effect, action, reaction. How to change the future."
Sylar, Heroes

Perhaps because of the analogy used by Paley and others comparing God to a watchmaker, characters who fix watches and clocks for a living are often portrayed as somewhat special or even having a supernatural degree of knowledge about the universe. Perhaps because of the somewhat detached nature the metaphor implies, such characters are rarely unambiguously good.

Compare with The Chessmaster. See Clocks of Control for another way that clocks can be used to characterize someone.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Enigmatic Empowering Entities of Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time are an old man who runs a clock store and his Bond Creature Clockmon. He's never actually seen doing anything with actual clocks, but still...
  • In Dr. STONE, Senku eventually arranges to have Joel, a famous watchmaker working for Rodex, revived for his expertise in working with extremely intricate mechanisms such as the petrification device, which he manages to fix after it seemingly ran out of power despite admitting that its mechanism is far beyond modern technology.
  • Miki from Revolutionary Girl Utena carries a pocket watch-like stopwatch and, during student council meetings, spontaneously clicks it. He seems to click it a lot before speaking himself, taking control of the conversation, and he also clicks it to note important narrative points about to be delivered (such as the first time Nemura Hall is explained). During the last episodes, while the whole of the student council sits around idly waiting for the revolution to occur, Miki is seen just gazing at the watch as it spins.

    Comic Books 
  • Prez Rickard in The Sandman (1989) is the perfect American president who fixes all the nation's problems and inspires everyone he meets. He also happens to be a watchmaking prodigy, and later refers to God as "the Watchmaker". In the original Prez comics, he first became a public figure (and attracted the attention of the person who suggested a future in politics) by fixing all the clocks in his city. The metaphor was absent, however.
  • The Spider-Man villain Big-Time is a slightly cheesy use of this trope - he seems to be good at setting up gambits, but at the same TIME, he can't stop TICKING people off with his really bad clock-puns.
  • Whirl from Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is a former watchmaker. He might have once been an otherwise decent individual who tried to play into Square Race, Round Class and avoid being pressured into doing other people's dirty work, being a big battle-copter model of Cybertronian, but things went horribly wrong and Body Horror inflicted as Cold-Blooded Torture is now the reason that he was a watchmaker, and is now an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight and definitely not what most would consider a "good" person.
  • Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen grows up learning about watch repair from his father (who later pushes him into nuclear physics as a better career) and ends up gaining powers that make him into a rather detached and apathetic Physical God who espouses a completely deterministic view of the world from his nonlinear perspective of time.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the WW II movie The Enemy Below the crew of a destroyer is trying to launch their depth charges faster and faster. A crewman leaves his hand on the rail and it is run over by the charges, causing him to lose his fingers. When the captain visits him in sick bay and assures him that he'll be back at his civilian job soon enough, the crewman tells him he was a watchmaker. Becomes a Moment of Heartwarming when the kid adds "But I'll be OK", to which the Captain responds "I'd bet on that."
  • The Magical Negro Moses in The Hudsucker Proxy is a clock worker who is only ever seen inside the clock tower, and seems to have some deep knowledge of the world, as well as more than natural powers.
  • While not watches, the Keymaker in The Matrix Reloaded has a lot in common with this trope; of note is a very clockwork-looking 'inside the keyhole' shot.

  • The Discworld book Thief of Time has Jeremy Clockson, a son of the Anthropomorphic Personification of Time. He was a foundling at the guild involved in clock-making and is a completely rational and utterly socially inept genius. For much of the book he aids the Auditors, who are devoted to making the world more orderly (generally in an Omnicidal Maniac way).
    • Although he isn't a watchmaker himself, Lord Vetinari quite often uses a watch metaphor for the city of Ankh Morpork, and the metaphor is very apt- and puts Vetinari right in the centre as the watchmaker: by careful organizing and attention to detail, he has made a ridiculously complex city run smoothly and almost automatically- the parts of the city, like the gears in a watch- are buoyed around by the force of each other. And, fitting with the trope, he's next to omniscient and is most definitely NOT unambiguously good.
    • Nanny Ogg kind of makes a roundabout reference to this trope in Witches Abroad; as she thinks "When you know about clockwork, you know about everything. I wish I bloody well knew about clockwork."
  • In E. T. A. Hoffmann's novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (and any adaptations thereof), the character Drosselmeyer is a clockmaker and inventor who is a Cool Old Guy and implied to have some supernatural connection
  • In John Morressy's short story "Timekeeper", the mysterious clockmaker who moves to town seems to have time-related powers, but mostly he uses them to have exactly the right clock ready at exactly the right time for every customer who comes into his shop.
  • In The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, the eponymous watchmaker seems to have a preternatural ability to anticipate events.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Monroe, the reformed werewolf, in Grimm is a clock and watch repairman and explains to Nick how the Wesen world works.
  • This is very explicit with Sylar of Heroes, who starts out fixing watches and has the power of complete understanding of how things work. He starts out using this ability to acquire more powers by eating dissecting his victims' brains. He later starts using it to analyze the other characters and hand out The Reason You Suck speeches to them, before finally using it to put together a scheme to achieve Total World Domination.
  • Supernatural: In "Clap Your Hands If You Believe", the town's resident watchmaker had a mystical grandmother who left him a book giving instructions on how to summon and make bargains with fairies, which he did.
  • The mysterious omnipotent time-traveler Bilis Manger in Torchwood runs a clock shop, reflecting both his power over time and his ability to run seamless Gambit Roulettes.

    Video Games 
  • Julius in Alice in the Country of Hearts and its sequels, and it's barely even metaphorical. As everybody in the Country of Hearts thinks Death Is Cheap, it's up to him to repair all their broken clocks (or "hearts"). This leads him to become a Workaholic as a result. Speculation has it he's the story's stand-in for Father Time.
  • Max Geiger from Fantasy Strike, whose title is "Precise Watchmaker". On top of making watches, he's a scientist studying time, and he's able to control it to a limited extent.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen's apartment has a couple of tables littered with clockwork components, indicating that he has taken up watch assembly as a way to cope with his new augmentations. Also as a way to grow more comfortable with them, due to the fine motor control required.

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman had a single-episode villain named Francis Grey, a clock repairman who (after spending 17 years repairing clocks in prison for stealing a watch to try to pay for his mounting bills) became so obsessed with time he eventually discovered he could see how time itself functioned and thus how to rewind it. He then embarks on a plan to get revenge on Gotham for all the time they took away from him, and thanks to his ability to rewind time by 20 seconds at will he actually succeeds in killing Batman and the rest of Gotham as well.
  • Nox was originally a very mundane and amiable watchmaker, but by the time Wakfu starts he's fully into this trope.

    Real Life