CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A father and son are the faces of a dying art. They’re among the proud, and the few in Charlotte trained to repair vintage clocks and watches.

Long before Ken Demert could even tell time, he talked about it. 

“My first words were ‘tick tock.’ Now, I couldn’t make that up… but it’s a fact,” he told Queen City News.

So, he just might have been the first kid hooked to TikTok. He’s been a horologist for 45 years; that’s what you call someone who fixes antique clocks.

“It’s something different every day. I never work on the same clock twice,” he says.

“See, if its main spring was right, it would catch,” Ken said while tinkering at Hall Clock Shop in southeast Charlotte.

The Sardis Road location is a one-stop shop in a field that’s something of a dinosaur.

“Matt and I have this thing worked out beautifully,” Ken said of his son and business partner.

Matt Demert is one of the rare watch repair specialists under 50. Growing up, he saw his father work and found his niche. 

“It just blew my mind, and I knew that one day I wanted to get there, “Matt says.

The Demerts perform delicate surgery on rare finds and family heirlooms, whether it’s a 1970s Rolex or a clock with sentimental value.

“I will not stop until that timepiece is right,” said Matt.

Customer Arline Reiner brought in three clocks for Ken to fix, hoping to break their silence.

“I said, ‘It’s time. I want to hear the gongs; I want them to keep correct time,” Reiner said. “And that’s why I’m here.”

With so few repair people left in the business, Ken and Matt work long hours and have a six-month waiting list.

“Give me another week,” Ken tells Arline.

“A week?” she replies. “I’m having a big party. I wanted my daughter to see it!”

Driven to get the job done by professional pride, their work is also a distraction from the moment when time stood still.

And he was with her that night and the next morning,” Ken began to explain. “So, Matthew’s deeply involved in her passing.”

“I watched her die,” Matt yells from the next room.

“Yeah,” Ken said as if reliving the loss in his mind. 

On Jan. 5, Mary Demert died after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. They were married for 57 years. Mrs. Demert worked in sales at the shop, where Ken now finds relief from the sadness.

“Now, working is more important than ever,” he says.  

Matt explained how much his mother urged him to chase his dream. Thanks to her guidance, he lives the dream with his dad.

“It’s great. You know, my dad is who I have left, and he’s been an inspiration to me,” said Matt.

“Well, I’m going to work until I can’t work anymore.”

The healing process has a different timeline for everyone.

Here, the Demerts go through it at their own pace together.

“And it does get me away from my sadness,” Ken says. “But I’ll be fine. I mean, I have to. You know you can’t go down because your wonderful mate went down.”

Mary’s name tag is front and center at Hall Clock Shop. It’s a somber reminder of a wife, a mother, and a beloved partner in time.