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PHOTOS: Phillips’ Clock Shop stands the test of time in Swampscott

George Phillips works on a pocket watch in his shop, Phillips' Clock Shop.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips works on a pocket watch in his shop, Phillips' Clock Shop.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

The inner mechanics of a pocket watch in Phillips' Clock Shop in Swampscott.

Phillips' Clock Shop

The inner mechanics of a pocket watch in Phillips' Clock Shop in Swampscott.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

George Phillips works on a pocket watch in his shop, Phillips' Clock Shop.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips works on a pocket watch in his shop, Phillips' Clock Shop.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

A wall in Phillips' Clock Shop is dominated by cuckoo clocks.

Phillips' Clock Shop

A wall in Phillips' Clock Shop is dominated by cuckoo clocks.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

An accordian player is featured on one of the cuckoo clocks for sale at Phillips' Clock Shop.

Phillips' Clock Shop

An accordian player is featured on one of the cuckoo clocks for sale at Phillips' Clock Shop.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

A bird pokes out of a cuckoo clock.

Phillips' Clock Shop

A bird pokes out of a cuckoo clock.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

George Phillips looks up information on a watch as he stands behind the counter of his shop.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips looks up information on a watch as he stands behind the counter of his shop.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

George Phillips inpects the band of a watch brought into his shop by Julia Babushkina of Nahant.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips inpects the band of a watch brought into his shop by Julia Babushkina of Nahant.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

George Phillips inpects the band of a watch brought into his shop by Julia Babushkina of Nahant.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips inpects the band of a watch brought into his shop by Julia Babushkina of Nahant.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

The selection of pocket watches for sale at Phillips' Clock Shop in Swampscott.

Phillips' Clock Shop

The selection of pocket watches for sale at Phillips' Clock Shop in Swampscott.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Grandfather clocks on display at Phillips' Clock Shop.

Phillips' Clock Shop

Grandfather clocks on display at Phillips' Clock Shop.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

The lunar calendar on a grandfather clock at Phillips' Clock Shop.

Phillips' Clock Shop

The lunar calendar on a grandfather clock at Phillips' Clock Shop.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

George Phillips speaks about one of the grandfather clocks in his shop.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips speaks about one of the grandfather clocks in his shop.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

George Phillips inspects clocks in one of his display cases.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips inspects clocks in one of his display cases.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

George Phillips is the owner of Phillips' Clock Shop with his wife, Marilyn.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips is the owner of Phillips' Clock Shop with his wife, Marilyn.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

George Phillips, surrounded by clocks, looks out the front window of his shop, Phillips' Clock Shop, in Swampscott.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips, surrounded by clocks, looks out the front window of his shop, Phillips' Clock Shop, in Swampscott.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

George Phillips is the owner of Phillips' Clock Shop with his wife, Marilyn.

Phillips' Clock Shop

George Phillips is the owner of Phillips' Clock Shop with his wife, Marilyn.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Banjo the shop dog stands in Phillips' Clock Shop.

Phillips' Clock Shop

Banjo the shop dog stands in Phillips' Clock Shop.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

A copy of

Phillips' Clock Shop

A copy of "Almost Everything You Wanted to Know about American Watches and Didn't Know Who to Ask" rests on the work bench of George Phillips.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Marilyn Phillips holds a tiny Zappler clock.

Phillips' Clock Shop

Marilyn Phillips holds a tiny Zappler clock.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

The inner workings of a disassembled pocket watch.

Phillips' Clock Shop

The inner workings of a disassembled pocket watch.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

A banjo clock, center, is the feature piece on back wall of Phillips' Clock Shop.

Phillips' Clock Shop

A banjo clock, center, is the feature piece on back wall of Phillips' Clock Shop.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

SWAMPSCOTT — Time marches on to the tick-tock cadence of dozens of clocks crowding the shelves and display floor in Phillips’ Clock Shop.

Time pieces as small as an ornate Zappler clock the size of a cigarette lighter to ponderous grandfather clocks costing as much as a new car are available to buy — or, in some cases, only to view — in the Essex Street store run by Lynnfield resident George C. Phillips III and his wife, Marilyn.

With their pug, Banjo, keeping them company, the Phillips sell and repair all manners of timekeeping devices and extol the virtues of watches and clocks as gifts and keepsakes in an age when a quick glance at a mobile device tells most people the time.

“We don’t plan on retiring. We love the clocks. It’s relaxing listening to them at night,” said Marilyn Phillips.

George Phillips considered himself mechanically-inclined even before he married Marilyn and started learning about clocks from his father-in-law. An East Boston native, he attended Boston’s North Bennet Street School and worked at the former Jordan Marsh department store in Boston where he eventually landed a job in the clock department.

“I opened my own little shop in 1974 in Winthrop,” he said.

The Phillips moved to Swampscott to enroll their three children in local schools and opened their Essex Street store in 1995. Their business is a mix of clock sales and watch and clock repairs that has survived changing consumer tastes.

Chelsea Clocks, the nautical-themed creations that George Phillips said almost every American president has received as a gift, remain popular sales items.

Grandfather clocks (known in the trade as hall or tall case clocks) are enduring acquisitions that younger customers are eyeing and buying in order to balance or accent a hallway or main room in a new house.

Pocket watches may sound like leftovers from the 19th century but the ornate timepieces are favorite gifts with younger buyers purchasing the watches for groomsmen gifts.

“Millennials are interested in them,” said Marilyn Phillips.

Her husband doesn’t just sell clocks and watches: he is a 51-year member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors who pores over the intricate mechanics of tiny timepieces with the aid of small, glasses-mounted magnifying lenses called “loupes.”

Customers like Julia Babushkina of Nahant have come to appreciate Phillips’ attention to detail and refusal to let even the most exotic watches defy his repair skills.

Intent on preserving the Soviet-era watch bestowed on her father in the 1970s, Babushkina took the watch with its inscription made out to her father to Phillips, who assessed the type of repairs it would need and the necessity to obtain the right parts.

Undeterred, Babushkina and her son tracked down a watch similar to her father’s and they plan to bring it to Phillips to provide repair parts.

“We get a lot of challenges,” he said.

With more than 300 pocket watches in his collection, Phillips can trace the origins of American watch production to the first 19th-century factory in Waltham, and he talks with pride about his Zappler clock, made in 1820, with its ornate craft work and tiny pendulum arm.

He speaks with the same enthusiasm about hulking grandfather clocks crafted from 19 different types of wood and outfitted with beveled glass doors.

His personal watches are a Rolex Presidential and an Omega Stainless Steel.

“That’s the kind James Bond wears,” he said.

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