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The original clock at the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris was destroyed by a conflagration in April.

What is lost can often be found — or a decent replica created. That is the message of a recent story about the clock destroyed by the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. After I read it, I felt curious about the clock expert who realized that a different church had an almost identical clock in storage. So I looked him up. Such discoveries are not ordinarily stumbled on by people with no expertise.

The Catholic News Agency, in an item widely shared last June, reported, “A clock nearly identical to the one destroyed in the fire at Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris has been found in storage. The duplicate was found at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris, in what is being called a ‘miraculous discovery.’ …

“The original clock was located near the cathedral spire, which collapsed during the April 15 fire. It was feared there would be no way to rebuild the clock, as there were no surviving drawings of its mechanism or any digital records of how the clock was made.

“The timepiece’s near-twin was found by clockmaker Jean-Baptiste Viot, during a storage inventory at Holy Trinity. Viot called the find ‘incredible.’ …

“The Church of the Holy Trinity’s original clock was replaced by an electronic model about 50 years ago. The old clock was then put in storage, and was discovered behind a wooden board amid statues and furniture in a small storage room.”

Said Olivier Chandez, who was responsible for maintaining the clock at Notre-Dame, ” ‘If we only had the photos, we would have had to extrapolate. … But with this model, we have all the dimensions.’

“While the clocks are very similar, Chandez said that there are enough differences to prevent restorers from simply inserting Holy Trinity’s clock into the refurbished Notre-Dame.”

Here is some of the information I found on the shard-eyed Jean-Baptiste Viot [J-B Viot].

Born in 1967, he “began his training in watch repair at the Public Watch Making School of Paris in September 1983. After graduating, he went to Switzerland to continue his studies at the Technical School of the Vallée de Joux. … The federal certificate he obtained in June 1988 enabled him to pursue his training with the International Museum of Watchmaking of Chaux de Fonds … resulting, after two further years of study, in a degree in watch restoration. …

“In June 1998, J-B VIOT was hired by Breguet 7 place Vendôme, giving him the chance to return to watch restoration in Paris. Indeed, working on original Breguet movements from the historical period 1775-1840 gave him the opportunity to study this great master from the past. …

“Following the purchase of the firm by the biggest Swiss watchmaking group (Groupe Swatch), J-B decided to devote himself entirely to the restoration of antique watches and clocks.” More here.

I like to imagine how Viot felt when he saw what Trinity had at a time that all Paris was mourning the cathedral.

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