Bill Williams told his wife he’d stop collecting clocks when he got to 100.
“She thought I meant 100 clocks,” he chuckles.
The 78-year-old retired schoolteacher had 3822 clocks at last count, and he’s still on the hunt for more.
They line the walls and stack the shelves of the old church building in a paddock of his property near Colyton in Manawatū.
Most he found in New Zealand, at garage sales or from deceased estates.
They range in vintage from the early 1700s to the mid 1980s.
Williams bursts with energy and passion as he takes Country Life on a tour of his museum, open at the weekends or by appointment.
From a sonorous mantlepiece clock which chimes the nursery rhyme Frere Jacques to a kitsch 70s piece decorated with swirling fish, Williams has a hugely varied selection and many favourites.
When he heard the Frere Jacques clock strike for the first time, he was ecstatic.
“I rushed down to the place I bought it from and gave them an extra 50 bucks.”
The American-made clocks are reliable but they have the worst sounding chimes, he said, grimacing as he mimicked a harsh bonging sound worthy of a house of horrors.
Fritz, a mahogany dog with eyeballs that roll around to tell the time, is one of his favourites.
Then there’s his “pride and joy”, a curious grandfather clock, made of thousands of matchsticks by a Christchurch prison inmate in the 1940s or 50s.
“Apparently he was a lifer so he had plenty of time on his hands.”
Williams used to wind up about 100 clocks a week until he got a bit tired of it.
He became hooked on clocks after opening up the back of one he found in an Auckland second-hand shop 25 years ago.
“It was a pendulum clock. The movement really intrigued me.”
Anything battery-powered does not get a look in at his museum, only wind-up or weight-driven clocks which work.
It’s harder and harder to find these sorts of clocks, Bill said.
“Mainly because I’ve got most of them!
“But, also because clocks are not really part of young people’s life anymore and so they wouldn’t dream of buying one.”
Williams believes he has the largest collection in the world although he hasn’t registered it with Guinness World Records.
He tried contacting them but they never got back to him, he said.
"I'm really, really hoping I can get to 4000 before I drop off the perch."