Hands using tools to tinker with watch mechanics

Curator Conversation: The history of timekeeping

Wednesday 1 May 2024

2pm - 3pm

All ages welcome

Queensland Museum Cobb+Co


Turn back the clock with horologist Gordon O'Donahue at our May Curator Conversation. Discover Gordon's fascinating journey as a watchmaker and clockmaker, and delve into the captivating history of timekeeping. Explore various timekeeping devices and witness demonstrations of modern clocks, watches, and testing equipment.

About the presenter

Gordon O'Donahue's narrative begins in February 1965 with his apprenticeship to the Queensland Government Horologist, delving into the intricate study of watchmaking and clockmaking. After several years of dedication, he transitioned to entrepreneurship, establishing a personal business. However, the demanding workload, encompassing 18-hour days, prompted a change in direction. Consequently, Gordon, who was married by then, closed the business and became a paid employee at H.M. Russell in Commercial Road Fortitude Valley, a prominent distributor for Citizen watches in Queensland at the time. Progressing within the company, he ascended to leadership in the department, only to face redundancy with the advent of Citizen Watches Australia.

Subsequently, Gordon embarked on a new chapter at N and H. Hawgood at Sandgate. Living in the bayside suburb of Birkdale, the lengthy commute to work prompted him to seek alternative career opportunities. This led to a successful transition to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as an Instrument Fitter, eventually advancing to become an Avionic Technician. Over two decades, he contributed his expertise to maintaining aircraft such as the Mirage, F/A-18, and Army Blackhawk helicopter.

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