EXCLUSIVE: New Fort Myers Beach clock revealed; mystery solved about original clock’s whereabouts

Reporter: Céline McArthur
Published: Updated:

Nearly nine months after Hurricane Ian washed away a Fort Myers Beach landmark, it’s just about time to replace it.

WINK News was the first to report a local beach builder and his investors commissioned a new pedestal clock—a replica of what stood there for more than 20 years. In another WINK News exclusive, Investigative Reporter Céline McArthur travels to Ohio with ‘A Man With a Plan,’ to watch the clock makers finish the job.

Time flies with ‘A Man with a Plan.’ We’re joining Joe Orlandini on his thousand-mile journey to check on the build of a Fort Myers Beach Landmark that will bring Times Square… back in time.

Like time, Joe Orlandini doesn’t stand still.

Céline McArthur joins Orlandini on his journey to Cincinnati to check on the progress of the new Times Square post clock.

He’s busy rebuilding Fort Myers Beach, so he only has 12 hours to get to Cincinnati and back.
His mission—make sure the 38-thousand dollar clock is ready to become the welcoming face of Times Square.

Orlandini watches as the face of the new Times Square clock lights up for the first time.

“We’re going to put this on today,” Joe says excitedly as he holds one of the custom faces for the new post clock.

Peter Verdin says his family’s business, The Verdin Company, has been making clocks for 181 years.

Michael Verdin, 1st generation clockmaker. Courtesy: The Verdin Company

“Well, I’m the seventh generation,” says Verdin. “We started in 1842. Came here to Cincinnati from France. We’ve made bells and clocks ever since.”

But this is the first time one of their landmark clocks washed away in a storm. So, they dug into the more than 20-year-old project file to recreate it.

2001 invoice for the original Times Square post clock with base price of $10,975.

“They might look the same on the outside from today to 20 or 30 years ago,” says Brian Rink, national sales manager for The Verdin Compay. “But we’ve got a full engineering team that will look at everything from how the head is attached to the base, to how the base is attached to the ground. And even the products on the inside, to make sure the timepiece in the control or the hands, the drive shafts—everything to make sure that they’re the best possible components that we can put in a clock today.”

The teal color may surprise you, but as you can see in this 2001 picture, it’s authentic.

A 2001 photo of the original post clock after it was installed in Times Square.

“Look, this is the exact color match to the original,” says Joe as he flips through the snapshots.

Look closely at what’s left of the clock base in Times Square, and you’ll see the teal there, too.

Orlandini points out the original teal paint color of the Times Square clock on the original base battered by Hurricane Ian.

“Yes, Fort Myers will be happy to know that they have the only Verdin clock that color in the world,” says Rink.

Excited with the results, Joe flies back to Fort Myers Beach to plan for the clock’s arrival.

“I hope everyone comes to touch it. That’s what I want them to do, so that way they they can feel it,” said Joe. “They’re here, their feet are here on the ground and they’re part of the community again.”

Some of you are still asking, what happened to the old clock? Joe started digging through piles of debris just days after Hurricane Ian, hoping to find it. He didn’t. But the mystery is solved—sort of. Take a look at this picture!

The original Times Square clock was found buried in debris that settled in a pool shortly after Hurricane Ian.

The original clock appears to be buried in a pile of trash that landed in a nearby pool after Hurricane Ian passed.
Sadly, the clock that was lost and then found, is now gone for good. That trash was hauled away at a time when the family was dealing with the aftermath of the storm.

Joe hopes the new clock will be installed in time for the 4th of July. Stay tuned to find out when it will be unveiled.

If you have a story you’d like me to tell, email me at celine.mcarthur@winknews.com.

In the meantime, you can catch up on my special series, “A Man With a Plan.”

The future of Fort Myers Beach: The ‘man with a plan.’

The future of Fort Myers Beach: The personal side of progress

The time has come: ‘Man with a plan’ to replace Fort Myers Beach clock lost during Hurricane Ian

Fort Myers Beach man to build $350k home for Hurricane Ian victims

‘Outpouring of love’: Owners of Fort Myers Beach restaurant destroyed by Ian donate $100K

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