Marine: Advice on Wempe Chronometerwerke Marine Chronometer

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by Drott, Sep 5, 2017.

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  1. Drott

    Drott New Member

    Sep 5, 2017
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    Hello, first of all I just want to say thank you all for some really interesting resources as regards to the broader subject of Horology and in particular Marine Chronometers.

    I am - as you may deduct from my post count - an utter novice, and I am writing to you as I just received a gift in the form of a German-made Wempe Chronometerwerke Marine Chronometer from the late 1960s. :)

    I have no prior experience with this kind of Horology and my only other timepiece is a "tool-watch" from a well-known Swiss brand...

    I am going to procure a few books on Marine Chronometers to build myself a better understanding of this subject, but in the meantime I would highly appreciate any assistance in answering a few questions of a general nature.

    It is numbered 8218, see picture (1968, no?)The chronometer runs well, no noticeable deviation from a weeks running. Questions:

    1) It has a 56 hour reserve, and I have read online that one should "lock the balance" with cork wedges when going away, does this really carry any purpose if it just sits stationary?

    2) The round "cork ring" pictured (although that picture i not from my chronometer but an identical one found on Ebay) looks out of place, what is the real function of that?


    3) The English-speaking world doesn't exactly seems awash with resources on Wempe and their marine chronometers, any tips? Or can any of you guys tell me something about this kind of chronometer.

    I simply adore the look and sound of it and I am sure this will be the beginning of a potentially very expensive new hobby :excited: 315277.jpg
  2. itspcb

    itspcb Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Aug 6, 2006
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    Welcome to the Message Board
    That's a very fine Chronometer you have there, from about 1968
    Although it is 56 hour reserve it should be wound daily.
    The ring round the winding pipe seals the case to the pipe.
    The movement should be wedged when it is transported, it stops the balance wheel oscillating out of control and doing damage.
    Although it looks to be new,, as in little use, since 1968. Unless you know it has been cleaned and oiled recently I would not run it until you can get it serviced as oils do harden.
    MC's are addictive devices that cost lots of money.
    This type of movement and layout is common and has been available since the early 1800's. Chronometer makers often incorporated there own modifications to overcome temperature issues.
    Now a warning, if you are inexperienced with servicing MC's do not attempt to service them yourself, they are delicate souls easily damaged. Spare parts are very hard to come by and expensive. Most replacement parts are made by hand.
    There are quite a few books that describe the way they work. A Hamilton 21 MC handbook is freely available and is a good starting place


  3. Drott

    Drott New Member

    Sep 5, 2017
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    Thank you for your quick and informative reply Peter!
    I will wind it daily, however, perhaps once a month or so it will be left at home with no one to wind it for longer than the reserve, i.e. it will unwind. Is that an issue with theese movements?
  4. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Ruby Member Sponsor

    Aug 24, 2000
    retired SW dev
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    It may not be completely clear from Peter's advice that you need to know the machine's history if you are going to run it daily. For example if it was in storage for 30 or 40 years and has not been serviced, then you really should not run it except for a brief examination.

    If it has been serviced within the last three years it will be fine to run it. If it runs down while you are away, that should not be a problem. The only time it needs to be stabilized with cork wedges is when it is transported. Carrying it across the room is also not an issue. These are very strong machines, but there are moments of vulnerability when they are running and moving. It is worse to have the balance unsecured when there is no power in my opinion because things can move in the wrong direction.
  5. Drott

    Drott New Member

    Sep 5, 2017
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    Again thank you gentlemen! Wempe were kind enough to provide me with a newly printed users manual (in English) as well as the original test protocol from 1968. Apparently it was shipped to Japan (see the second picture) but whoever attested the protocol had a handwriting as bad as mine so having trouble reading what destination within Japan. Anyway I thought it could be of interest :)

    315360.jpg 315361.jpg

    If i manage to find out more I will post it here.

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