The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents

Germano Silva

Added to museum: 5/22/13

Large Ornate Clocks with Many Functions

Germano Silva.

Germano Silva poses with one of his large, ornate clocks. It took eight years to build. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)


Several years ago, we were sent a video on a very unusual clock and an equally unusual clock maker. Germano Silva was identified as a jeweler in San Jose, California, but none of the videos or articles offered any contact information. It wasn’t until he started a Facebook page recently that we were able to get in touch with him. The amount of information available is a little brief, and the photos are scanned from a few large prints that he has had done, but we think the result is worth appreciating.

From a disastrous start to a spectacular accomplishment

Germano Silva was born in Portugal. From an early age he was curious about how mechanical things worked. At age 7 he decided to try his hand at fixing the neighbor’s clock. Alone in the house, he took off the hands and clock face, and, as he says, “Everything goes like, poof, I have parts all over the place.” Trying to repair it after that was futile, but he notes while that was his first big mistake with clocks, it was far from his last. He notes, however, that it is important to make mistakes and learn from them because that is how you learn to do things much better the next time.

In an interview for a TV segment about his clock on a local NBC affiliate in San Jose he said, “You know, I no like sports too much. I no like to play cards. I no like to go to the bars. I no like to do this. I like to spend my in something to create…to make something to see. When I make these clocks  I am very, very happy when I look, when I see the work I did.”

Making clocks put him in “another world”

Germano says, “I love clocks. I like to make wheels (gears). For me, it’s another world.” His largest clock, a massive structure that contains sixteen individual clocks, took over eight years to complete. He would return from his daily job as a jeweler and hand make parts for his biggest masterpiece. It is not the only clock he has built, but it is the largest and most complicated, and he made every piece himself. As a jeweler and engraver, he knows how to make each part look like a piece of jewelry, and he is willing to spend whatever time it takes to get it exactly the way he wants it. Not being under pressure to sell his work to make a living, time is not really a factor in his creativity.

For now he still owns all the clocks himself, but he admits that someday he would like to see them in a place where the public can appreciate them, perhaps in the lobby of a large hotel or, better yet, in a museum. One of his concerns, however, is their complicated nature. He notes that if the big clock were to stop, it takes a lot of skill just to get all 16 clocks running in sequence again. Even for him, its creator, it can be difficult. It would take someone with a lot of knowledge of clocks and some training from him to keep it running accurately. Unlike today’s clocks, it doesn’t capture a time code from a satellite or run with the sure accuracy of the vibration of a crystal. It is all mechanical, needing lubrication and tender, loving care.

Video on NBC features Mr. Silva and his clock

Garvin Thomas of NBC Bay Area News did a short special several years ago showing Mr. Silva and his clock.  It can be found on the internet at


Here are some photos of Germano's clocks and projects

(Click photo for larger image.)

Free-standing 16-clock timepiece

Germano Silva's workshop area. Included are several watchmaker's lathes and magnification by a glass viewer and a microscope for working on small parts and engraving.

Details of the large, multi-dial clock.

Closer details of the main clockface and smaller regional timepieces that tell time in 12 different major cities around the world.

Details of some of the clock mechanism

Germano not only makes large clocks, he also works on smaller pocket and wrist watches. He created the case for the high quality Omega watch on the right.

New free standing brass clock (work in progress)

Germano Silva's latest clock project allows him to try out some  new ideas.
As Germano noted in his interview with NBC TV, He "likes gears." These creations from brass should certainly make him happy.

More beautiful "wheels" and other components sculpted from brass will go into his latest timepiece.

This latest project has been completed and was featured on Germano's Facebook page in December, 2014. In the second photo in this series you can see some of Germano's worlkshop equipment in the background.

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