by Merlin Douglass

In a world where every appliance, every phone is a timepiece, people still get sentimental about their clocks.  They are often heirlooms, reminders of childhood and relatives that have passed on. “People sometimes come to us in tears,” Daniel Barkley-Usher says about customers who come in with a broken relic that they can’t find anyone to repair. Most heartbreaking, he says, are the senior citizens who come in. “Tami has a soft spoke for them, she often moves them to the front of the line,” he says.  That’s a significant advance because the wait time at Covenant Clocks is currently between 1 and 1 ½ years.

“We’re small but we serve in a very big way,” he says. Daniel is one of three owners of Covenant Clock Restorations, 4575 SW Tucker Ave in downtown Beaverton. The others are his brother, Renaldo, know to friends and family as Steve and Daniel’s wife, Tami.  He and his brother, Renoldo Usher restore antique clocks In the red brick, one story, unimposing building Daniel and Steve restore beautiful antique clocks and Tami Barkley, Daniel’s wife, does everything else. 

“It might have been the pandemic,” Tami says, “People tell me they’ve been home a lot and they’ve been meaning to get this work done for sometime now.” Prior to this most recent press of business, she says, a person could expect to get their clock back in 3 months or so.

Daniel Barkley Usher, horologist
Daniel Barkley Usher, horologist

From the outside, the building could be a dentist office or an accountancy but once you get inside, there is no question about it’s use.  The rooms, the hallways, the floors and the walls are filled with clocks of every description, make and style.  When the hour strikes here, you know about it.  

The shop specializes in Herschede Hall clocks, which are no longer made.  “There aren’t very many clock makers who know how the complex movement works in a Herschede and so we actually service the whole United States,” says Tami  They work on all clocks she says, “wall clocks, mantle clocks, cuckoo clocks, quartz movement clocks, basically any kind of clock you can think of.”  

They share ownership with Daniel’s brother Renaldo Usher, known to friends and family as Steve. “He is the master clockmaker,” Tami says of her brother-in-law, “He’s so accomplished that clockmakers around the United States call him for advice or help.  Sometimes they actually end up sending the clock to us because they can’t figure it out,” she says.  Besides clocks, they have sometimes been called on to fix other broken antique objects like Victrolas and music boxes. “I’m not sure how people hear about us,” Tami says, “ We have a website because everybody has a website but we don’t advertise.  

As clockmakers, or horologists as Daniel would say, the brothers count their skills as a family heritage. Their grandfather opened his first shop in Paraguay in South America though no one is sure of the date. Their father learned the trade at his father’s workbench and later came to the United States, settling in Salem in 1968.  Ten years later, in about 1978,  he came to Beaverton and opened a shop he called It’s About Time.  He taught his sons, Daniel and Steve.  When the younger generation took over the business they changed the name to Covenant Clocks.

Steve (Renaldo) Usher, master clockmaker
Steve (Renaldo) Usher, master clockmaker

Their children are involved now too and, Tami says, they hope that one day they will take their place at the workshop, amidst the gears,  chimes, weights, chains and antique wooden frames.  It is an old skill that calls for precision and care and dedication and most importantly, patience.  Though time waits for no man, the work cannot be hurried.

“It’s in the name,” says Daniel’s wife, Tami, “It’s our covenant, it’s our promise to take good care of your clock and to restore it perfectly.”  Covenant Clocks can be reached at 503-747-3852 or by email: covenantclocks@hotmail.com.