World’s Largest Clock Collection: Guinness for Chennai’s Robert

Robert Kennedy's collection of 1706 clocks in Chennai is the world's largest collection of mechanical clocks says Guinness World Records.

Chennai’s Robert Kennedy can be called the clock man of the world. He has the  world’s  largest collection of clocks – 1706 of them according to the Guinness World Records. The  confirmation came a few days ago  after verifying the details he submitted in September 2017. 

The 58 year old collector who has turned his 700 sq ft apartment at Kodambakkam into a clock museum told “I never dreamt about this. I am so happy. Submitting the evidence was a rigorous process. It was worth it”.

Robert’s oldest clock is a 290 years old handmade clock from England which he says “no clock collector in the world has”.  He also has the smallest pendulum clock made in 1860, believed to be Swiss made. “These two are my trump cards” he says adding “these don’t have any name as branding began only around 200 years ago”. 

Robert’s hobby to collect clocks began when he was in class XII, inspired by his grandfather’s Ansonia calendar clock that  his  British bosses had gifted him. “My father used to tell me stories about this clock and the Chevrolet car my grandpa’s bosses gifted him. The movement and the clock mechanism fascinated me”, he explains.
Since then Robert used to visit scrap shops and flea markets to buy old clocks using his pocket money. Now he spends 300 to 6000 rupees to buy these pieces. His 40 year collection includes spring and weight driven pendulum clocks, suzzi movement clocks, anniversary clocks, cuckoo and marine clocks. 
58 year old Robert Kennedy started collecting collecting clocks from his school days inspired by a calendar clock left by his grand father.
Over the years he has worked with more than 20 clocksmiths  to restore old clocks.  “Our clocksmiths are highly talented as good as or even better than Swiss experts  but hardly recognised. Many are alcoholic” he says. He does the carpentry work for clocks himself and turns into an assistant for  clocksmiths as they revive them. “Now I have a thorough knowledge of the mechanism of clocks” he adds. “The moment the clock starts ticking the happiness can’t be explained. It’s like a heart beating after a open heart surgery” he says on the joy of restoring old clocks.
The Guinness record took five years of hardwork to submit  evidence including ten hours of video footage showing each clock in working condition. 
Robert, a computer professional turned entrepreneur had made a good fortune assembling computers in the early nineties is now leading a retired life. He wants to set up a clock museum of international standards in Chennai. “All these came from scrap and the collection belongs to the country. It would be nice if the government could allot a place to house these clocks”.  he explains.

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