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Lay-person looking at a Chelsea clock and barometer on eBay

Kimsails

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Sep 21, 2021
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Hello,

I am looking for a Ship's Bell clock and Barometer for use on a sailboat. I'd like to find a nice, but not crazy expensive, vintage set that functions well and can be used for actual time-keeping and barometer readings (Something that really works, not just a pretty display).

I am wondering if there are any basic tenets in evaluating the clock that I can and should look out for (or the barometer for that matter although I realize I am on a Clock site)? I am not foolish to think I would be an expert in a day. I'm just trying to keep myself "off of the rocks" as it were, if there are basic things I should look for or ask about.

Thanks,
Kim
 
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Salsagev

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Hi Kim,

If you want a quartz movement, I would get a more modern and cheaper one for cheaper. If you want mechanical movement, you should look around on FB Marketplace for some deals, as they can go for $500 plus. First of all, what is your price range?
 
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Kimsails

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Hi Kim,

If you want a quartz movement, I would get a more modern and cheaper one for cheaper. If you want mechanical movement, you should look around on FB Marketplace for some deals, as they can go for $500 plus. First of all, what is your price range?
That sounds like good advice, thanks. I like the idea of a mechanical movement for the tradition of it. It wouldn't be accurate enough for celestial navigation, but it would be fine for logging and cool to have on the boat.

Sorry about the link. I didn't know and am not looking to cause issues.

Thanks,
Kim
 

Salsagev

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If you want an accurate clock, a Chelsea would be nice in serviced condition. A quartz clock is always most accurate.
 

shutterbug

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If you go mechanical, you'll need a balance wheel movement. Pendulums and boats don't do well together. Interestingly, the balance wheel clock was invented explicitly for celestial navigation needs. ;)
 

Kimsails

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If you go mechanical, you'll need a balance wheel movement. Pendulums and boats don't do well together. Interestingly, the balance wheel clock was invented explicitly for celestial navigation needs. ;)
Thank you for that. I'm sure you're right. I do know that a *lot* of effort went into creating an accurate clock design to allow sailors to accurately determine longitude with a sextant. They could determine latitude without an accurate clock, but not longitude. But I didn't know quite what the difference was on the clock.

How would I determine if a ship's clock I am looking at has a balance wheel movement? Or do all (or most) of them that are called Ship's clocks, and have that very thick cylindrical look, have a balance wheel movement?

Love your signature (A man with a clock always knows the time. A man with two clocks is never sure.) I've told the same to many people over the years. And I've identified a sailor's corollary:
A sailor with one compass always knows the boat's heading. A sailor with two compasses is never sure!
 
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Levi Hutchins

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Thank you for that. I'm sure you're right. I do know that a *lot* of effort went into creating an accurate clock design to allow sailors to accurately determine longitude with a sextant. They could determine latitude without an accurate clock, but not longitude. But I didn't know quite what the difference was on the clock.

... Or do all (or most) of them that are called Ship's clocks, and have that very thick cylindrical look, have a balance wheel movement?
A marine chronometer is not needed for calculating position. A global navigation satellite system (GPS) is commonly used these days: Satellite navigation - Wikipedia

If you are looking for a mechanical ship's clock (or a quartz one) you may want to learn what is available and what they sell for by searching "ship's clock" on Ebay. (Decide whether you want a "ship's bell clock," or one that is "time only.")

Some are listed with matching barometers.
 

Kimsails

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A marine chronometer is not needed for calculating position. A global navigation satellite system (GPS) is commonly used these days: Satellite navigation - Wikipedia

If you are looking for a mechanical ship's clock (or a quartz one) you may want to learn what is available and what they sell for by searching "ship's clock" on Ebay. (Decide whether you want a "ship's bell clock," or one that is "time only.")

Some are listed with matching barometers.
You are absolutely right -- a marine chronometer is not needed. I use a tablet and a smartphone as my electronic chart plotter with GPS. It tells me precisely where I am and also my course and speed. No one really needs celestial navigation these days. And yet, I have a sextant. Occasionally, when I have a clear horizon, I like to practice taking sights and see how close I can get to my actual GPS position (answer: not very; still learning!).

So, yeah, no one really needs a ship's clock to tell the time on a boat (Is it okay to say that out loud on a watch & clock website?!?). But that hasn't stopped me from looking for a nice mechanical ship's bell clock that chimes every half-hour according to the standard 4-hour watch schedule. It is just a cool nautical tradition.

I've done a bit of looking on eBay. I've determined that I'd really like a Chelsea Mechanical Ship's Bell clock. Of course, the question is affording one. It seems to me its like wanting a Shelby Mustang, when your budget suggests a Ford Escape is a smarter choice.

It looks like most of the Chelsea Ship's Bell clocks on eBay are sold by a very small number of dealers with multiple clocks. Is that accurate or does it just seem that way?
 

bruce linde

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mostly true... there's a guy in oregon who 'restores' chelseas and sells them on ebay... he does an ok job but very few people are left who can really go in and deal with the escapements (at the heart of what makes them tick)... that requires old school watch making techniques. chelseas are in high demand, but i would think that the soft ticking would be lovely in the quieter moments on a boat... and you deserve it. :)
 

Levi Hutchins

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... very few people are left who can really go in and deal with the escapements (at the heart of what makes them tick)... that requires old school watch making techniques.
I understand that Chelsea platform escapements had been originally supplied by the Waltham Watch Company, and are now obtained from Switzerland.
chelseas are in high demand, but i would think that the soft ticking would be lovely in the quieter moments on a boat... and you deserve it. :)
The joy of sailing downwind in calm seas - with the tintinnabulations to celebrate the passage of time and space!

A boat deserves a fine clock.
 

Kimsails

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there's a guy in oregon who 'restores' chelseas and sells them on ebay.
I don't know that I've come across eBay listings from the Oregon (though maybe I have). I do see a lot from a dealer in Allyn, Washington. Since those are both in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps we're talking about the same person??
 

bruce linde

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I don't know that I've come across eBay listings from the Oregon (though maybe I have). I do see a lot from a dealer in Allyn, Washington. Since those are both in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps we're talking about the same person??
sorry, yes. i would keep my eyes open for a one-off estate sale deal and start saving. :)
 
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Bruce Barnes

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This should be a fun search,the prices and instruments will be from "thither to yon" and the same holds true for their condition......verify your measurements if mounting space is a consideration.
Bruce
 

bruce linde

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and keep in mind that a 4.5" dial would have a 5.5"-ish back bezel.... (for example).

how big are the used-to-be-something-here marks on your boat? (or am i confusing conversations)?
 

Kimsails

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Yes - start searching and saving!

I'll have to take a look at the mounting pattern on the boat bulkhead. My recollection is that the screw hole pattern suggested a 5-6" circle for a clock and a barometer.
 

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