Marine: Marine Chronometer Story - Mercer

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by burt, Mar 11, 2017.

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  1. burt

    burt Registered User
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    #1 burt, Mar 11, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
    Here is a story I originally wrote for the Bulletin that unfortunately won't be published. The story was fully illustrated and if anyone is interested, in a specific photo ,I will try and find the picture and caption that went with it. Some were lost during the lengthy time I was put on hold by "the editor".I thought,well a lot of work was put into the research,and this was the only avenue I had to share this story with anyone interested in marine chronometers,their makers and use at sea.This is a copy and format that was sent to Columbia.

    My intention was to write a series of articles on chronometers,their makers and how they were used. They were intended to be read as series of articles starting with the Negus story that was published. As no one else was writing on the subject I thought I take a shot and do these for the chronometer folks and perhaps snag a few new members into our portion of the hobby.

    It's my opinion that the marine chronometer was one of the most important instruments ever deleloped that contributed to the expansion of the civilized world and deserved a place of honor in the study of horology.
     

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    tick talk, Snapper and Tom McIntyre like this.
  2. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Nice job Burt. If you like we could make this into a published article here (or on our new Message Board), or if you would like to have inputs from others into the story itself, we could make it into an Encyclopedia Article and open the editing to whomever you might recommend in addition to yourself.
     
  3. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Superb article Burt! Glad to see it make the light of day. I so look forward to reading any article you produce. Many thanks for your persistence!
    Paul
     
  4. burt

    burt Registered User
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    Tom,

    Thank you very much for your comments! Actually I have both in a somewhat improved version. As I'm a bit "sensitive" about editing after my recent experience at the Bulletin, I would prefer placing them anywhere on the board you wish but not in the Encyclopedia. Both of these articles were fully illustrated with some outstanding photos some of which were never published. I have most but all were sent to Columbia and unless canned should be there?

    Please allow me to say that my intention was to recruit interest, by writing these stories about marine chronometers and placement of these to that end would be my wish. So wherever you think they would be the most visible I'll stipulate to your decision.
     
  5. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    We will be releasing new Message Board software in the near future and should have much better article publishing capabilities at that time. If you look at the Timely Topics area on this site the articles there an attempt I made to stimulate some interest in story type articles with more formal publishing a few years ago. It never seemed to catch on, so it is currently a neglected child.

    One of our big need here is for publication managers who can offer editorial advice to those who need it.
     
  6. burt

    burt Registered User
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    #6 burt, Oct 28, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    Recently I discovered that the Mercer Company is back into producing "Crafting and precisely engineering marine and table chronometers" with the company headquarters in London. They also offer restoration services.The grandson of Tony Mercer,Joel Mercer, is heading the company operations. As Tony Mercer was the grandson of the firms founder Thomas Mercer,Joel would be the 5 th generation of the family to run the company. I had the occasion to check out their most impressive web site at thomasmercer.com and urge anyone who is interested in the companies history or the really spectacular instruments they are now producing to check it out. Very high quality pictures and much printed detail on the instruments is available. There is also listed an opportunity to submit your Mercer chronometer number and a offer for them to research their records for company information on the instrument. I did just that for the subject chronometer of this story and will report on what I may find out from the firm. I'm posting this not as an advertisement but to up date my story and make readers aware that an avenue of research is available for owners of Mercer chronometers. Click on "Heritage" and scroll down to "Authenticity" for details and instructions to submit for information.
     
  7. Jerry Freedman

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    Burt: What is the web address for the new Mercer Company?
     
  8. burt

    burt Registered User
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    #8 burt, Oct 28, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    thomasmercer.com

    Here is an example of the quality of product that they are now offering. This is what they call their Greenwich Marine Chronometer. During the 1980's they offered a more traditional chronometer of the same name. Photo credit: Mercer web site

    1.TM_GREENWICH_Front_Angle_HR_1_SITO.jpg 3.TM_GREENWICH_Front_HR_3_SITO.jpg 2.TM_GREENWICH_Dial_Detail_HR_5_SITO.jpg 6.TM_GREENWICH_Cal_TM0803_Front_Angle_open_HR.jpg
     
  9. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Thanks for pointing this site our Burt. I'll take a Greenwich!
    Paul
     
  10. burt

    burt Registered User
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    #10 burt, Oct 28, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    Paul,

    Hey that's the one I picked too! Amazing workmanship! I realize that these instruments are in a "special class" and built to the highest standards of physical excellence and beauty the older generations of marine chronometers were purposeful built to be accurate and rugged instruments meant to navigate the seas of the world. I admire both.
     
  11. tick talk

    tick talk Registered User

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    Hello Burt. From one retired cop to another, kudos for a great article. I'll take a watch with history any day!
     
  12. burt

    burt Registered User
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    Thank you so very much brother! I'm glad you liked the article.It's not every day that I get a kind remark on my work or find a fellow collector who appreciates the "historical connection" of the timepieces we collect. I did three of these chronometer stories and was very fortunate to find instruments with a traceable history. As I couldn't find anyone who was doing similar research on chronometers histories and writing about them I thought they would be more popular? So thanks again for being a "stand up guy" and commenting! I really do appreciate it.
     
  13. burt

    burt Registered User
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    Yesterday I received a very nice email from Mercer in regards to my inquiry about Mercer chronometer #16955 (1944). Unfortunately for me but perhaps good news for others they reported back "our archives provide extensive information on units manufactured before 1938". This may well be an excellent opportunity to get some information on your chronometer directly from the factory records. Good luck!

    It wasn't a total loss for me as I offered to send my story to them for review and they accepted! I'll report back whatever they have to say.
     
  14. Jim Haney

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    burt,
    That is great news and a real working asset to the Chronometer forum. Keep us posted.
     
  15. Paul Regan

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    Burt, I should think the Mercer Company will receive your article with great interest given the fact they have no information on your unit. Great work Burt.
     
  16. burt

    burt Registered User
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    Jim and Paul,

    I would also like to add the Mercer Company will also check your Mercer chronometer,regardless of age, to see if it served with the Admiralty with records from the International Chronometer Index (ICI) held at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. I think this is a most gracious offer as lately there has been some difficulty in getting these checks done. I agree, another real working asset to the chronometer forum.
     
  17. burt

    burt Registered User
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    Well today I received a very nice letter from Alessandro Quintavalle of the Thomas Mercer Company. She wrote in part "Your article is very compelling and informative, our most sincere congratulations. In addition to the many details on both #16955 and the story of its service, we truly thank you for praising the Mercer name,not only for its leadership in quality-widely renown it made more than 30,000 chronometers - but also in quality and accuracy".

    I also supplied her the web site address and urged her to check out our chronometer section on the N.A.W.C.C. message board. She wrote "I could read the full thread on the forum and it was nice to learn from passionate collectors and admirers of marine chronometry. We must confess to you that authenticity was really placed at the core of the relaunch of the company and indeed the 3rd,4th, and 5th generation ( Mercer's) were all involved in this fascinating project, with Tony helping as much as he could until he sadly passed away in 2012".
     
  18. burt

    burt Registered User
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    #18 burt, Nov 5, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
    I recently learned that while the Mercer company made over 30,000 chronometer instruments less than 400 were actually used in the Admiralty! That is according to the official records of the International Chronometer Index located and held at the National Maritime Museum,Greenwich. This data base was started in 1970 and consists of all marine chronometers known to exist.Not to be discouraging but it appears finding a traceable history of a particular chronometer's service isn't an easy thing to accomplish. With military history the search does give a researcher more avenues of discovery than with a chronometer instrument without. I think being lucky is better than being good applies. Anyway, I think all the reason to explore the past history of the chronometers we collect and record them when possible. Looking at auction sales of chronometers that have been part of historic events certainly has a great effect on their values.
     
  19. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Well said Burt. Wouldn't it be wonderful to read the stories that the many chronometers held in the collections of the readers of this thread/chronometer Forum could tell. I bet there are more then a few and I for one would love to read them all. How about it Members, share your stories of where your chronometers have been. I'm sure we'd all like to read them.
    Paul
     
  20. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Registered User
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    Is there a way to see the chronometer index on line?
     
  21. Tom McIntyre

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    The index was not on-line the last I knew (about 4 years ago). Originally it was a card index in the workshop of the observatory on top of the hill. The museum is much more sophisticated now and I would be surprised if there was not something on a computer at least.

    Cmdr. Peter Linstead-Smith was managing it as a volunteer the last time I used the service. He and Jonathan Betts are still the experts at Somerset House, I think but I don't know how active they are at RMM.
     
  22. Jerry Freedman

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    FYI
    The new Mercer Chronometers start at 60,000 pounds for the Greenwich model!
     
  23. burt

    burt Registered User
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    I think that works out to about $78K. Of course if you have a $100 million dollar yacht I guess that's not too expensive? I think to get some kind of perspective on these instruments it must be considered that these are "horological masterpieces" in design and build and are also tremendous "works of art". Look at what some wristwatch brands sell for. Check out their top end Observatory Grand Complication. With 1680 brass and steel components,15 complications including a perpetual calendar,equation of time and 24 world wide time zone function. The movement itself is about 12 inches in diameter. This flying detent tourbillion double fusee instrument can hardly be referred to as a clock? I believe these go for about a million and up. Yes,that's in British pounds. I'm posting this for all who thought (like me) the "art" of chronometer making and design was over and that master craftsmanship in this area of horology was over.

    observatory-1.jpg observatory-3.jpg observatory-4.jpg tm3001-2.jpg
     

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