The first time I spotted a Detex Watchclock Station in the wilds was about 3½ years ago, on a long fence at New Calvary Cemetery in Queens. That Detex station contained nothing but some dirt, until I stashed a couple of coins and a calling card for my website therein, as a gift for whoever might have the kind of eyes that see things like this.
I looked around for others, spending a couple of enthusiastic afternoons walking the perimeters of Old and New Calvary on a quest, a mission to find more Detex Watchclock Stations.
It didn’t take much of this scouting around to conclude that future sightings of these Watchclock Stations, in the real-world environment where they were actually used, would be few and far between.
Today, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one again, this time not in a remote, desolate part of Queens but right in my own back yard, on a spot I’ve probably walked past a thousand times.
On a wall at the Kaufman Astoria studios, next to an unmarked door, sat this mighty jewel, pristine in condition. Unlike the first Watchclock Station I found it actually still contained the key.
What is a Detex Watchclock Station? Until as late as 2011 these staions served as check-in points for security guards who patrolled the grounds. As I wrote back in December, 2016:
The key would have been used by a security guard to check in at the station to prove they were doing their job of patrolling the premises. The security guard carried a mechanical clock and the key was used on the clock to record the time and location of the check-in on a piece of paper. The boss would review these papers to verify that the guards had made the rounds to all the watchclock stations on the premises.
Besides the fence at New Calvary the only other place I saw one of these was in a display case at Sparr’s Antique and Militaria shop on Broadway near 42nd Street. I don’t know what price Sparr’s asked for their Detex but if eBay is any indication these watchclock stations are not worth much, however interesting they might be. You’d be lucky to get twenty bucks for one on eBay.