Martha Benson

The Watchmaker's Daughter

Timepiece 1

The central assemblage here is 5 and 1/4 inches tall.  The handmade silver chain is 16 inches long.  The materials are silver, copper, brass and antique watch parts. Priced at $495.

Timepiece 2

The central element here is 5 and 1/4 inches tall, including the loop.  The beaded chain measures 22 inches in length.  The materials are brass, copper, silver, antique watch parts and copper and silver beads.  Priced at $495.

Timepiece 3

The central element here is 3 and 1/4 inches high.  The materials are silver, pearl, cast vintage buckle and antique 

watch parts.  Priced at $395.

My father was a watchmaker and his shop was in downtown Kansas City on a famous street called "Petticoat Lane."  Women used to wear long dresses in those days, and they wore lots of skirts under their dresses called "petticoats."  It got very windy there and when it did you could see their petticoats, which you weren't supposed to see!  On Sundays when I was a child, my father took me with him to his shop downtown to help him wind the watches he had repaired the week before, so that on Monday when the owners came to pick them up they would be running and ready.   In those days watches didn't have batteries.  They were kept running by springs that were wound up real tight inside of the watch so they would unwind very slowly, moving the parts inside.  He showed me how to hold the little knob on the rim of the watch between my thumb and pointing finger and move the knob back and forth until the spring inside was tight.  This made the wheels move the watch hands to the right numbers to tell the time. During the weeks before I went to help him do the winding, my father had cleaned the watches by taking them completely apart and putting the parts in lots of little glass dishes for cleaning and drying. There were so many parts that I wondered how he could remember how they should go back together, but of course he did. 

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I loved looking at all of the little watch parts.  They didn't look like anything else, just watch parts.  But when you played with them and moved them around they made wonderful designs.  Sometimes I would also help him hang the watches on a display board in the customer area:  wristwatches by their watchbands and pocket watches by their long gold or silver chains.  Then after we turned off the lights, before we closed and locked the door, we could hear a very soft tinkling sound of the ticking of all the watches, like a miniature orchestra.  Maybe they were saying "Thank you!"

                       Earrings $150

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This elegant neckpiece or torque was created by Martha in the Spring of 2020 and showcases the extraordinary lapidary work of the late Dieter Lorenz.  The bezel holding the central flame-like carved agate has negative space on the verso to allow the light to come through.  Priced at $750.