KNIE Hermann Hugo

Name Hermann Hugo KNIE
Country Of Origin Australia
Born 1909
Died 1991
Birth/Baptism Born 28 December 1909, Captains Flat, near Queanbeyan, New South Wales
Parents Hugo Maximilian (jeweller) and Doris B Knie
Apprenticeship Printing trade
Skills Clockmaker (self-taught horologist)
Work Locations Hobart
Street Address
Marriage/Spouse 1932, New South Wales, to Margaret Catherine Paull

Nadejda Knie

Other Other skills: Printer, linotype operator

Hermann showed an interest in horology at an early age. The hobby grew when he moved to Hobart, Tasmania.

The Mercury (Hobart) 21 October 1953:
‘ …  A timepiece and perpetual calendar combined – made by two Hobart amateurs, Messrs. H H Knie and C A V Ranks. Besides the main dial, which records the time, there are four sub-dials. The top one denotes seconds, the left one the name of the day, the right one the date, and the lower one the month. The clock, which is of the grandfather type (7ft. high), was constructed in 16 months from an original design by Mr C B Reeve of Hastings, one of England’s foremost amateur horologists. A feature is that the mechanism automatically synchronises the date and day of the week at the end of each month, whether long or short, and leap year is included. This correcting action is controlled by a cam which revolves once in four years. The clock is wound only once a year, and the driving weights fall about 3ft. 3in.’

1980: Founding member of the Wombat Hollow Clock Company, and later Sydney Clockmakers Society.

Excerpt from an obituary by Clive Brewer, Member, Sydney Clockmakers Society, 1991:
… ‘Around 1950, he acquired a new Myford Lathe for less than one hundred pounds; he then determined to put his lifetime ambition to the test by making his first clock. At the time, the Claude Reeves Year Going Clock was being serialised in Model Engineer, and Hermann was determined to make that clock.  Hermann found the series in Model Engineer lacked some essential details of the clock. Undaunted, he made contact with Claude Reeves to seek clarification. This was the beginning of an enduring friendship which lasted until Claude’s death. During that period, they exchanged some 300 letters, and Hermann enjoyed Reeves’ hospitality on two occasions when he visited England. It was Claude that had brought the axiom – “If you are to make a clock, you must make the whole clock “ to Hermann’s attention. From that period, a feature of Hermann’s work was the total construction of the clock, not only the movement parts but the casing and its components, even screws.

Hermann enjoyed an international reputation and corresponded with renowned clockmakers worldwide. These included Claude Reeves, Steven Bertole, Henry Fried, Bloch, and Charles Aked; Hermann filed all this correspondence and would quote from them on occasion. International visitors to Sydney called on Hermann, enjoying his hospitality and taking the chance to inspect his magnificent clocks.

Hermann caused a stir in horological circles when he recognised the work of Francis Abbott, a convict transported to Tasmania for misdemeanour. As a point of interest, the last clock he completed before his death was a copy of Abbott’s Skeleton Clock, the details of which Hermann had found amongst Abbott’s papers.

As previously mentioned, Hermann had a delightful command of the English language and had just completed a series of reminiscences for the Clockmaker Magazine. He was also the author of many articles published in the Model Engineer and the NAWCC Bulletin.’

Death 5 July 1991, Sydney, New South Wales
Ross Robinson to Graham Mulligan 2021, November 2023.
Web: Ancestry: Australia Birth Index 1909, Australia Marriage Index 1932, Australia & New Zealand Find A Grave Index 1991