Marine Chronometer - Where to Procure?

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by mdjtlj, Aug 17, 2009.

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  1. mdjtlj

    mdjtlj Registered User

    Aug 17, 2009
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    Greetings,

    Just looking for advice on obtaining a marine chronometer. I'm an ex-merchant marine that has always had a fascination with marine chronometers since I first had to use one on an old Lykes Brothers tramp vessel. Now, it's come to the point of my life to start collecting things that are near and dear to my profession and hold some value.

    I'd like to start a collection of marine chronometers (as well as sextants/octants) but I'm having a little problem of finding these for ready sale. What is the best approach to procuring these items? I'm trying to violate the terms of service of this site, or get specific links, but I'm trying to get ideas as how to snuff these out. I'm not real fond of eBay, that just doesn't seem like the right place to look. I've seen some on auction sites where inevitably the listings are years old and are of no use. What would you suggest?

    I'd like to start off with a Hamilton Model 21 chronometer, as this is the first one that I used onboard a commercial vessel. Maybe after that, move to an older English one (maker to be determined) and then eventually a quartz to round out the collection.

    Any thoughts/suggestions?
     
  2. Burkhard Rasch

    Burkhard Rasch Registered User
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    Jun 1, 2007
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    Hi,mdjtlj,and wellcome to this message board!OK,here is my sugestion,and that´s for some reasons:First I´ve to feed wife,children and pets,so my budget is somewhat limited,Second I´m only interested in the technic,not in "antic value".Third:my chrono should run-whenever I want it to-without being afraid of wear and tear;repairing a chrono can be extremely expensive.And I wanted "best value for my little money".So here it is "with greetings from russia"I´m verry satisfied with it allthough others will have other reasons to chose theirs.
    Burkhard
     

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  3. Bob Baxter

    Bob Baxter Registered User

    Dec 19, 2000
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    Don't know where you are located but you can usually find some nice ones at Jones-Horan auctions in NH. Not sure when the next auction is but they have a web site if you google them.
     
  4. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Aug 24, 2000
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    There were 8 in an auction at Skinner's in Marlborough MA a couple of weeks ago. They are always available on eBay, but some of the European ones may be a bit over restored.

    The Russian chronometers are a good buy and very reliable. They are based on the Nardin design in most cases but some of the material is from the GUB.

    You can sometimes find model 21's in the tub and shipping container rather than boxed. Those usually considerably less expensive (but a replacement box is not cheap).
     
  5. Dexx

    Dexx Registered User

    Mar 10, 2009
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    In addition to Jones Horan, check out some of the major international auction houses. For example, Christies usually hold one or two auctions per year entitled "Important Clocks and Marine Chronometers." Their auction last year had three marine chronometers, including a very nice one by Charles Frodsham (sold for 2,400 GBP, not including buyers premium). Bonhams also have regular yearly clock auctions that include marine chronometers.
     
  6. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    #6 Tom McIntyre, Aug 18, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
    If you want to browse some marine chronometers to see what sort you might like, you can find a reasonable selection in my collection displayed here. There are some pocket chronomers and other navigational instruments displayed also. Click on the "home" link on the chronometer index page to see the other items. (None of these items are for sale ;))
     
  7. Dexx

    Dexx Registered User

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    Tom, that's an impressive collection of marine chronometers you have. I enjoyed reading about them. I don't know much about MCs, but I particularly like the Fletcher with its quirky innovation.
     
  8. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Fletcher was the master who trained "Radical Tom Mercer" who founded the Mercer dynasty of chronometer makers. Konrad Knirim used my pictures of the Fletcher for the cover of his book on English Military Timepieces.
     
  9. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
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    Tom, I have a John Fletcher No. 3297 that was restored by the Thomas Mercer company back in the early 1980's. It is a two-day runner with a conventional detent escapement having bimetallic compensating balance. It was acquired as a non-working movement (escape arbor pivot broken) in its original tub but with no gimbals or case. Mercer made all the missing parts and it looks and works like new today.

    mdjtlj, as already pointed out there are quite a number of auction houses that handle marine chronometers, just need to mark their websites on your favorites list and keep them monitored.
     
  10. mdjtlj

    mdjtlj Registered User

    Aug 17, 2009
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    OP here, thanks guys..... I'm still looking, have a couple in mind (non-Hamilton 21) that are up for auction soon, but waiting on my Mercer book to better investigate them before doing any kind of bidding.

    The one I don't have to think about is the Hamilton Model 21, but have yet to find this elusive one for sale somewhere in a reasonable condition.

    Once again, thanks for the fascinating discussion. Tom: your collection is quite impressive and fascinating. Might I ask, do you collect based upon the historical value of these pieces, the technological aspect or for the historical navigational facet of these pieces?

    Michael
     
  11. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    #11 Tom McIntyre, Aug 19, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009
    I have not really had a "plan" for the chronometer collection. I have been trying to put together examples from a wide range of periods with some attention to middle temperature error. However chronometers with special balances are significantly more expensive than regular chronometers so I only have examples of the two simplest forms (Dent and Poole).

    I give a talk on the history and development of marine chronometers to NAWCC and community groups. When I can I take some of the chronometers along to illustrate the talk. My talks were once all available on-line, but software updates to my web site rendered most of them invisible. The top of the site is http://awco.org.

    A few years ago, I intended to rate all the chronometers in the collection but I found that I do not have sufficient attention span to do that successfully.:)

    I checked my site and noticed that the Evolution of the Marine Chronometer talk is viewable.
     
  12. mdjtlj

    mdjtlj Registered User

    Aug 17, 2009
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    Pulled the trigger today, did end up buying a Hamilton 21 serial number 2E11269. It is in great condition. Is there any online reference material to the serial number ranges?

    Any recommendation on a service provider for this piece should an overhaul be needed?

    Once again, thanks for all of your help on how to locate these items.
     

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