Time is running out for Jouster clockmakers
  • Drives

NOM Drives: Time is running out for Jouster clockmakers

Jacob and Johan ten Hoeve and Freerk Pasveer are passionate clockmakers who want to preserve the craft of clockmaking for the Netherlands from Joure, because that has been the home base of clockmaking for three centuries. Johan: 'We owe it to the craft and to future generations not to let our knowledge go to waste, but rather to transfer it. That the craft continues to exist and that we show others that it does; that is what drives us.'

Jacob ten Hoeve Designuurwerken in the center of Joure has been Jacob's business since 1978. Freerk Pasveer works here from his own company Klokreparatie Joure. Jacob's son Johan has lived in England for fifteen years and is a clockmaker and curator there. In mid-2023, Johan will return to the Netherlands so that the joint ambitions can take their final shape. Johan: 'Both in the Netherlands and internationally, our craft is becoming smaller and smaller. There are only two people left in the Netherlands who make clocks: one of them is my father.'


'Making clocks is a completely different trade than repairing them,' Johan emphasizes. 'We want to preserve this trade for the future and therefore start training people. We can do that from Joure, but I have an international network and the clock market is global. A broad view is also necessary: the Dutch market is simply too small.'

Jacob, Johan and Freerk know that training people will take a lot of time and energy. Moreover, space must first be created: in the current premises on the Midstraat, Jacob and Freerk are already struggling with a lack of space. 'Whether we convert the premises or look for a location elsewhere in Joure is not yet certain. Expanding is necessary anyway before we start a training center and let people work within the company. For that we need a solid financial plan. Moreover, the people we train must already have a basis: preliminary training in clock repair, for example, so that training in clock making is a logical next step. But a preliminary metal-technical education can also be a basis.'

We want to preserve this profession for the future
Johan ten Hoeve

As contemporary as watches

Johan also knows the international watch market well. 'Watches are trendy, it's an interesting market with a lot of money involved. The clock market fits in well with that and internationally there is also enthusiasm for modern clocks, but we need to market our products better so that we get a more contemporary image.' Jacob: "I have been making designer clocks for twenty years now. There is so much demand for them, I cannot meet it on my own. This also shows: there is a future in it. We must ensure that we are ready for that future.' Johan: 'If we can reach one percent of the watch market with our clocks, we are doing very well. The network is there: if we do the necessary expansions and train people we can sell clocks all over the world.'

Passion for the trade

Jacob: "For us it is important that the base remains Joure, because Joure ís the home base of clock making for three centuries. We have to preserve this flourishing history. The building that we have occupied since 1987 also belonged to a clockmaker before us. When we bought it, we did so with the idea that the clockmaking business should continue here. People who have something to do with clocks associate 'Joure' with quality. It really is a unique selling point (USP).' Freerk: 'People must be able to keep coming to Joure for clocks. For repair, restoration and for new clocks. Precisely because we as entrepreneurs have each other as back-up, our work is of high quality: we keep each other on our toes'. Jacob: 'History has to repeat itself here and we want to help with that.' Johan: 'For me, it's all about the passion for the trade. You can't buy or make that, you have to have it. If you have that passion, you radiate it. We all three find it important that the trade continues to exist and that we show others that it exists, that you can earn your money with it and that the world lies at your feet: from Joure - or wherever - you can serve the whole world.'

Transferring knowledge

Johan continues: 'There is also so much possible, so many techniques we can make use of.' Freerk: 'CNC milling is such a technique, which is what I was trained in. Whereas CNC millers in a production environment often do repetitive work and make parts for other machines, as a clockmaker and repairer you work very autonomously. You create something special that will stand or hang in people's homes.' Jacob: 'Customers sometimes drop by two or three times to take a look, that's how interesting they find it. Incidentally, we also make timepieces for business clients who want a special object and new clocks from old timepieces, even from enormous clocks from church towers. We do projects like that in cooperation with other craftsmen, such as cabinetmakers and glaziers. For example, we also did the restoration of the Eise Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker. Its maintenance is also in our hands.'

Johan: 'You see: our craft is a living profession. There is a demand for what we make, our work is sold. We owe it to the craft and to future generations not to let our knowledge go to waste, but rather to transfer it. In the end, everything must come together: a financially healthy company that is ready for an international future and also prepares others for that future.'