Gone Outdoors

How to Date a Chelsea Ships Clock

by Will Charpentier

Chelsea Clocks of Boston has made ship clocks since the early 1900s. Chelsea ship's clocks are familiar to most men who've gone to sea. Often, when a ship's captain retires, he's given the clock from the last ship he commands. Sometimes these clocks are passed down through children, grandchildren or great grandchildren. If a person inherits a ship's clock, her curiosity about its origins can be satisfied quickly if she knows or can read the Chelsea serial number on the back of the case.

1. Find the serial number on the back of the case. Record the serial number and type of clock. The company's website at chelseaclock.com lets visitors know that "Each clock is individually numbered and then registered prior to leaving the factory. The model numbers are stored within a library of log books, which include not only when the clock was made and who it was sold to, but also holds records of any service work we may have performed on the timepiece."

2. Send an email containing the serial number and description of the clock to certificates@chelseaclock.com. The Chelsea website tells the visitor, "Dating back to the early 1900s, when Chelsea first began making the Ship's Bell, detailed records have been kept of each clock ever produced by the company."

3. Ask for a Certificate of Origin for the clock. Chelsea Clock will provide this certificate, containing the date the clock was made, the type of clock and the name of the person it was first sold to, for any ship clock ever produced by Chelsea. The certificate carries the company's seal and the signature of the company president, and provides provenance information on the individual clock by serial number and model.

Items you will need
  • Serial number of the clock
  • Model number of the clock

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.