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Thread: A Deck Watch

  1. #36
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch

    I like that story! Hamilton were certainly insubordinate; the Department of Defense told the watch industry pretty exactly what sort of chronometer they were to produce by writing a tight specification - the DoD wanted a clone of an Ulysse Nardin, but Hamilton repeatedly ignored this and used their own balance, which they knew was better suited to mass production.

    Everyone else used Harrison’s invention of the bimetallic strip, in the form of the cut bimetallic balance wheel. Hamilton used an uncut plain circle of stainless steel with a strip of Invar across the center, so the wheel went oval in warm weather and oval the other way in cold... neat!
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  2. #37
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch

    When we crossed the South Atlantic years ago, my skipper had his sextant, I had my sight reduction tables and my digital wrist watch was checked for loss/gain against the GPS clock each day and entered in the log. We felt quietly confident that if we had complete electrical failure we could still find land, roughly where we estimated it might be. Belts and braces.
    A smack is not just for Christmas ;o)

  3. #38
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch




    Two deck watches, the Ulysse Nardin on the left still has its Royal Navy brass outer case and mahogany box, the much older one, also Swiss but anonymous and retailed by Eliott Brothers, a very famous firm of instrument makers, has lost its box and I ought to make it a new one.

    At the top is a 1813 English verge watch which is of normal watch dimensions, to show the size of the two deck watches.
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 05-30-2018 at 06:36 AM.
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  4. #39
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch




    The little pocket barometer was made for another famous firm of instrument makers, Cookes of Hull, who are still in business independently. The Ulysse Nardin was probably made for the RN for use in submarines, because it has, most unusually for a deck watch, a stainless steel case. The Eliott has a nickel silver case. The idea behind the stainless steel case is to shield the balance spring from magnetic fields - there are huge numbers of post War wrist watches with stainless steel backs marked “anti magnetic”.
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 05-30-2018 at 06:44 AM.
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  5. #40
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch



    Top - Eliott, lower Ulysse Nardin. The pin on the Ulysse Nardin is for hand setting- same idea as the lever setting on American railroad watches - to stop you accidentally moving the hands when you wind it up.

    In horological parlance the Eliott is a “three quarter plate” movement and the Ulysse Nardin is a “barred” movement. American railroad watches show the same styles. The change over from 3/4 to barred happened around 1900.

    Both have Boseley regulators (a Boseley regulator varies the length of the balance spring and thus the period of oscillation of the balance wheel and thus the rate of the watch) but the Ulysse Nardin has got an eccentric cam adjustment on the regulator arm. The Ulysse Nardin has an absolutely massive balance wheel - chronometer size, in fact. This is highly unusual in a watch.
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 05-30-2018 at 07:48 AM.
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  6. #41
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch

    A few years back I taugh John Harrison’s great, great, great.... grand daughter Systems Engineering, she was a chip off the old block, straight A student.

  7. #42
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch



    An American railroad watch. This one is a very late Waltham Vanguard- in fact it’s one of the last ones they made, in 1948.

    Like the Ulysse Nardin deck watch, this is a barred movement, with a Boseley regulator and in this case there is a micrometer screw adjustment to the regulator arm.

    These can be used as deck watches and indeed in what we might term the “heroic age” of long distance sailing, in the late 19th and early 20th century, US railroad watches were the timekeeper of choice for the long distance yachtsman.

    In WW2 Hamilton and Elgin both produced upgraded versions of their railroad watches as deck watches -Lew has one, a Hamilton Model 22.

    The standard for a US railroad watch was that it should keep time to within thirty seconds a week, and if we think that, as Ulysse Nardin used to point out in their wristwatch adverts, in which they delighted to point out that they made the best chronometers in the world (Thomas Mercer might not have agreed, but Rolex didn’t make any, so ner, ner, ner...), four seconds is a mile, so for yottigating, where the sextant error is in my experience likely to be a good five miles, a US railroad watch is fine.

    When diesel electric locomotives came in, US railroad watches suddenly needed to be “anti-magnetic” like my submarine deck watch.

    In terms of time keeping, the 1813 verge watch, signed by the maker, Philip Bright, of Doncaster, with a portrait of the Duke of Wellington on the cock, with a pair case hall marked for Birmingham, 1813, and a watch paper inside on which a Mr Gilbert of Rugeley has recorded, in a fine copper plate hand, that he cleaned and adjusted it in March 1852, is within five minutes a day, usually, which is why town halls and churches and even pubs tend to have prominent clocks...

    The Waltham Vanguard is a normal size pocket watch. There were regulations about what a railroad watch dial should look like, so as to be very clear and easy to read, hence the upright Arabic numerals, etc.

    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 06-01-2018 at 03:57 PM.
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  8. #43
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch

    Usher and Cole

    My family name is Cole, the ancestor in Aus was transported in the first fleet and was a watchmaker. He became the Timekeeper in Hobart, Tasmania and made 'nautical timepieces' as a profession. I have been told that they are rare but some still exist.
    I wondered if there was a connection.

  9. #44
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Usher and Cole

    My family name is Cole, the ancestor in Aus was transported in the first fleet and was a watchmaker. He became the Timekeeper in Hobart, Tasmania and made 'nautical timepieces' as a profession. I have been told that they are rare but some still exist.
    I wondered if there was a connection.
    Almost certainly, because watch making tended to be hereditary. Did he come from Ipswich? The Cole in Usher and Cole,
    very eminent deck watch makers to the RN, did.
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  10. #45
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch

    I was amused when I typed in the description of my Ulysse Nardin deck watch into Google and found its twin, advertised for sale at rather-more-than-I-paid-for-mine, with a WW2 Kriegsmarine emblem on the back:

    https://www.chrono24.co.uk/ulyssenar...-id4365774.htm

    and the name of Andreas Huber who were and are watch retailers in Vaduz, Lichtenstein, but who give their address as Munich and Berlin on the watch:

    http://www.huber.li/en-us/company/geschichte.aspx

    Clearly, Ulysse Nardin were happily selling to both sides throughout WW2, in accordance with Swiss tradition...
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 06-08-2018 at 07:28 AM.
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  11. #46
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    Default Re: A Deck Watch

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    Here’s a link to an account of how Germany, Britain and the United States approached the problem of accurate navigational timekeeping in WW2 - with a walk on part for Switzerland.

    Hamiltons WW2 products deserve to be up there with the Liberty Ship, the Jeep, the C47 and the Sherman tank, but nobody remembers them.

    http://www.knirim.de/chapman.htm
    But we do. Along with Achilles and Hector and thanks to you and Google, they live for now. Unfortunately, Homer isn't here to write their story. Maybe you should? A specialized but seafaring man's view of the timepieces of WWII. Could be made epic, maybe even the next great WWII movie. How hard could it be? All you really have to do is be better than Dunkirk.

    I intend to pass my small collection on to the next generation, the daughter (or son-in-law and daughter) who show the most interest. None of mine are really special but three of them must have seen some kind of service. They're minor artifacts but also great machines.

    You have to keep adding to this thread. Good stuff!
    One of the most enduring qualities of an old wooden boat is the smell it imparts to your clothing.

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