Dan Nied's father was an easy-going guy. Growing up, Nied's mother was the disciplinarian in the Harlem, N.Y., home where his family owned few valuables, except for one.
Nied said his father "foolishly" kept a pocket watch in the upper left drawer of his dresser. The watch, dating to 1895, belonged to Nied's great-grandfather.
One day, a bored, 10-year-old Nied removed the watch from his dad's dresser and took the family heirloom apart. When his father saw this, the usually affable man told his son:
"You have two hours to put it together, and it better run -- or I'll kill you."
It took Nied a half hour to get the watch exactly as it was. He's been fixing watches ever since.
He started by taking broken watches his neighbors didn't want anymore. He'd fix them and sell them back to the neighbors.
Now in York, he has opened the York Time Institute on West Market Street.
There, the 62-year-old repairs watches, but also performs the function he considers his priority -- teaching.
The institute offers a 54-week program where students learn what Nied calls a "lost art."
"There are very few places in the world where people can learn the correct ways of making, repairing, restoring and conserving time pieces," said Nied, who also teaches his students how to build a time piece from scratch.
"In a 'throwaway society,' people are used to replacing rather than repairing," Nied said. "This is because of the lack of quality in the material of products being made today.
"However, more and more people are starting to realize that it's better economics to buy quality and repair when necessary, rather than buy junk and replace it. These are beautiful things, and they are alive . . . but only when they work."
What: York Time Institute; 312 W. Market St., York
Who: Director Dan Nied, who opened the institute in Sept. 2008.
Details: 717-848-3152, or yorktimeinstitute.com
The institute offers a 54-week program in horological conservation, restoration and repair.
Each week of instruction is five days of seven clock hours a day. (A clock hour is 50 minutes.)
Tuition and lab fees for the entire program totals $22,950.
The Institute offers a variety of evening lectures and weekend short courses. Among them:
· Mechanical Clock Making in America from 1800 A.D.; April 6; Free.
· Changing Watch Batteries: May 15; Free.
· Basic Clock Case Repair: Saturday and Sunday; $175.
· Basic Jewelry Making: May 9, and May 10; $185.
· Watch Collecting: May 30-31; $175.