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Butterfield Jewelers: A Step Back In Time
Don Butterfield, owner of Butterfield Jewelers, has been in the same location since 1985 in downtown Oakdale so his customers never have a problem finding him. Pictured, Butterfield replaces a watch battery for a customer. - photo by Kim Van Meter/The Leader

Don Butterfield, owner of Butterfield Jewelers, is a man who knows quite a lot about how things used to run when Oakdale was a ‘two-horse town’ but he knows even more about repairing clocks, which is his specialty.

Butterfield learned his particular skill set from his father in a round-about way but something about repairing clocks and watches appealed to him as a young lad and he stuck with it.

And “sticking with it, no matter what” seems to be Butterfield’s recipe for success as his business had managed to remain on the scene in spite of rocky economic times and a changing landscape for many of his suppliers.

Gone are the days where nearly everyone wore a watch or even had a clock on the walls at home. Today, it’s an electronic age and digital technology is king.

However, you’d never know it by walking into Butterfield’s store. There, amid his tools and the tick-tock of 100-year-old clocks, the past is sitting right beside the present and doing all right.

Butterfield has been in his present location, downtown on F Street, since 1985 and he seems quite comfortable.

Aside from the nostalgia clocks represent, there’s something useful about having an old clock around — they’ll run forever with proper maintenance.

According to Butterfield, the mechanisms were fairly simple and that simplicity works in its favor in terms of longevity.
“Older clocks will run for years without needing service,” he said.

And when they do need service, Butterfield has the tools and parts to make the repair because he’s been in the business for so long.

When asked what he enjoys most about his business, he said, “Working on watches and clocks, also dealing with customers.”

But it’s not all fun and games. Technology has taken its toll on the parts houses. With fewer people needing clocks or watches, the parts houses are going out of business.

Butterfield enjoys working on all kinds of clocks, particularly antiques. Some of the most interesting clocks he’s repaired were made completely of wood, including wood plates, wheels and even wooden teeth. It takes a certain level of skill and craftsmanship, as well as experience, to complete these types of repairs. Luckily Butterfield has all three.

Typically, a clock repair will take a day or two, unless it’s a big clock, those take longer, he said.

Big or small, Butterfield said he enjoys all kinds, but he has a soft spot for the older clocks.

He’s worked on everything from family heirlooms to antique store finds, to simply replacing a watch battery.

There’s no need to wonder if that old clock you inherited will ever work again. Take it to Don Butterfield and let him have a look.

Chances are, he knows what to do to get it tick-tocking again.

Butterfield Jewelers is located at 300 E. F St.

For more information on clock or watch repair, call (209) 847-7689.

Editor’s Note: This concludes our three-part series on longtime local specialty shops. Look for future features and multi-part series in upcoming issues of The Leader.