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Young Man Overcomes Illness by Learning Skills From a Near Dead Art: Watchmaking

After Reuben Schoots contracted a series of devastating tropical diseases during an eight-month backpacking trip through Latin America, he found himself with nothing but time on his hands.

The 27-year-old Canberra man dropped 35 pounds from his slim, athletic figure earlier and was so weak he could barely get out of bed. In virtually constant pain, Schoots became addicted to opiates. He lost his barista job and eventually stopped pursuing his nutrition studies at university.

Schoots admitted that life as he knew it was over. Although he knew he would have to follow a different course, his depression had left him without a rudder, until the day something small caught his eye and led to a life-changing epiphany.

A friend who had come to visit was wearing a glass-backed mechanical watch; its visible movement. Schoots was fascinated by the synchronicity of all the tiny parts working together that made it tick.

Although watchmaking had never been an activity, he realized that it was not only something he could try during his recovery, it was something that really appealed to him.

“I really wanted to do something with my hands, to do,” said Schoots ABC Canberra“But I didn’t realize that was what I wanted to do until I got sick and everything I was doing or had was eliminated.”

In addition to being “time consuming”, the art of horology (watchmaking) from two hundred years ago is tremendously accurate. Schoots immersed himself fully in the study, learning the techniques of posthumous master watchmaker George Daniels, a man famous for his impressive handcrafted creations.

Schoots says he is only aware of two other watchmakers besides himself who have completed a watch made to Daniels’ specifications. It is a trial and error process; to do and redo; a process that in many ways reflects Schoots’s reconstruction of his entire life.

She has also come to understand how her own experience could serve as a positive example for those struggling with loneliness and adversity related to the pandemic.

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“I think a lot of people feel very negative and they don’t like this isolation, or this time with themselves. Change hurts, ”he said. “But they underestimate or underestimate the value of downtime and I think people are afraid to be with themselves. Evolution comes from downtime. “

At 2,500 hours into his project, Schoots is two pieces away from completing his first 100% handmade watch. The work is not physically exhausting, but it requires focus and concentration.

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Although Schoots often has to rest, he appreciates the constant direction this new version of his life is taking because, with patience and perseverance, he has every reason to believe that time will be on his side.

Featured Images: @ reubenschoots / Instagram

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