Ships clocks are a thing of beauty. But they’re also far more complicated and functional than those thin little disks known as wristwatches. No, ships’ clocks are required to operate for long periods of time in corrosive conditions. Waves and other rhythmic motions can’t be allowed to throw the device off.
When a company sets out to build a ship’s clock, care needs to be taken on all of these fronts. Which is probably why a company as well-respected as Bremont is undertaking this lost art. Bremont Watches is attempting to reclaim a uniquely British tradition in this modern age.
John Harrison started it in the 18th century with his marine chronometer. The British were an impressive sea power already, but this technological advantage augmented this edge. An interesting study would chart the speed at which this innovation passed from military to civilian and mercantile spheres.
After all, the United Kingdom experienced a tremendous upswing in trade during the second half of the 18th century. Would it be preposterous to postulate that at least some of those gains were the result of improving productivity, productivity that came as the result of more precise navigation? It’s clear that Harrison’s sea clocks made long voyages far safer. This should have translated into falling insurance rates over time and lowered the cost of shipped goods, resulting in lower prices for everyone.
The implications of his invention were far-reaching. Bremont’s current efforts are to recognise Harrison’s contributions and sustain such a level of craftsmanship. Sea clocks may not be as high-tech as all the other gadgets that help us find our way these days, but they can still serve as important devices aboard today’s luxury yachts. They can add to the aesthetic appeal and class of the vessel, something that Harrison perhaps never intended, but Bremont does.
Image – garryknight@ Flickr: CC