Robert Kennedy, Chennai's very own clock man, has earned a place in the prestigious Guinness Book of World Records for his impressive collection of 1,706 clocks, which began as a hobby when he was a teenager.
The adolescent's grandfather, the chief clerk of a British-owned tea estate in Munnar, Kerala, was the one who first got him interested in clock collecting in 1983. "My father used to tell me tales about the wind-up Unsonia clock that his superiors had given to my grandfather. Every week I helped him wind and clean it. I was 16 at the time. I felt my preference was toward clocks while my schoolmates were accumulating coins and other items. I began acquiring them from scrap yards," he claimed.
The oldest clock in his extensive collection, the largest of the 237 clock collectors in the world, was made by hand in England 290 years ago. No one among the 237 collectors objected when Kennedy displayed it on his social media page in 2015, claiming that it was the only one of its kind in the world.
He boasted that he was the sole owner of the world's smallest pendulum clock, which measures just 1.5 inches in size.
But the Big Ben Alarm Clock is his favorite. "It is my favorite because, in 1986, I was the only person with one of these alarm clocks when I was living in my college dorm. It has been the scene of many memories from my college years, he continued. Kennedy recalled an incident in which a London-based woman called him and offered to sell him three clocks. However, because they were high-end catalog clocks that cost Rs. 1.5 lakh, I was unable to afford them. I received the same clock as a gift one year later. She claimed that because she knew I would protect them and not sell them, she trusted me. In a similar vein, I've gotten 27 clocks from various sources," he said.
Kennedy has 1,000 mechanical wristwatches and 550 pocket watches. The oldest clock he has is 290 years old and the smallest one he possesses is a 1.5-inch pendulum clock. He does not have a single battery-operated clock in his collection.
Even though they have such an unusual collection, they hardly receive any recognition in the nation. He claimed that he didn't realize clock collecting was a recognized hobby in European nations until the rise of TV and film.
Kennedy wants to change that by dedicating a trusted museum to the nation and opening it to house the timepieces he spent 40 years collecting. "I'll ask the government to give me space for this museum, and I'd be happy to have them housed in the Egmore Museum as well. The general public and tourists can view this priceless collection.
Kennedy's claim was verified by DGP Abhash Kumar, the head of Civil Supplies CID, who sent Kennedy's application to the Guinness Book of World Records. DGP Abhash Kumar said of Kennedy's collection: "It is an amazing collection and he has spent his life's earnings on it. For Chennai, it is a moment of pride.