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A Victorian Nautical Striking Bulkhead Clock Incorporating the ‘Dog Watches’.

Smith and Sons, Clerkenwell, London.

A very rare late 19th century ship’s clock by Smith and Sons that strikes true nautical time incorporating the unique striking sequences for the ‘dog watches’ on two massive bells.

The brass cylindrical case has a fretted aperture on the bottom, a polished brass front and a hinged and latched bezel with a beveled glass and silvered reflecting ring.

The engraved silvered dial has Roman numerals for the hours, gilt spade hands and is signed ‘Smith & Sons, Clerkenwell, London’.

The massive double-fusee eight-day time and nautical striking movement has maintaining power, massive pillars, a variation of rack striking designed to incorporate the unusual sequences for the ‘dog watches’ and strikes combinations of two hammers on two massive 5 in. bells.  The high quality recessed English lever platform is fitted spanning the top plates and has a smooth balance with the fast/slow out the dial.

‘Dog watches’ were initiated to alter the sequence of watches used on board ships so the same people would not be working the same watches. Although ship striking clocks are relatively common, clocks identifying the dog watches are very rare.

The back of the dial has an abundance of repairer’s scribe marks beginning in 1887. The name ‘Parsons’ is inscribed in several places and might be a hint to the provenance. This piece would most likely have been commissioned by someone of means.
9.5 in diameter
8 in. depth

from wiki: in order for the crew to rotate through all the watches, it is necessary to have an odd number of watches in a ship's day. splitting one of the watches in half allows the sailors to stand different watches instead of one team being forced to stand the mid-watch every night. the choice of time also allows both watches, if there are only two, to eat an evening meal at about the traditional time. the oxford english dictionary states that the word 'dogwatch' is a direct translation from either german or dutch of a similar term. it originally referred to the night-watch on ships — that is, the time when (on land) all but the dogs were asleep. the name is also said to be derived from sirius, the "dog star", on the claim that sirius was the first star that can be seen at night.

first watch 8 pm to midnight (2000 – 0000)
middle watch midnight to 4 am (0000 – 0400)
morning watch 4 am to 8 am (0400 – 0800)
forenoon watch 8 am to noon (0800 – 1200)
afternoon watch noon to 4 pm (1200 – 1600)
first dog watch 4 pm to 6 pm (1600 – 1800)
second dog watch 6 pm to 8 pm (1800 – 2000)

standard watches
00:30 1 bell
01:00 2 bells
01:30 2 bells, pause, 1 bell
02:00 2 bells, pause, 2 bells
02:30 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 1 bell
03:00 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells
03:30 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 1 bell
04:00 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells

dog watch
04:30 1 bell
05:00 2 bells
05:30 2 bells, pause, 1 bell
06:00 2 bells, pause, 2 bells
06:30 1 bell
07:00 2 bells
07:30 2 bells, pause, 1 bell
08:00 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells

the clockmakers john smith & sons of clerkenwell in london were, along with evans of handsworth, at the forefront of skeleton clock making in the victorian period. the company started in 1780 and by 1830 they were in st john's square, clerkenwell, where they remained until the late 1980's. the workshop had it's own brass foundry, clock case workshop and assembly areas for the various types of clocks produced, as can be seen in an article printed in the illustrated london news of 1851, entitled visit to a clerkenwell clock factory. for further details, see british skeleton clocks by derek roberts.

A note about the bezel, which is based on two early 1900s bronze bezels from Tiffany. Here's more info on the originals: The clock on the left of the bottom photo was made by Chelsea for Tiffany & Co, circa 1915. The clock on the right was made by Tiffany & Co. Makers circa 1907. Tiffany & Co. Makers was an in house shop of Tiffany & Co. from 1879 till 1908. Joseph Lindauer, Jr. made and George Paulding Farnham designed the Makers clock. They apparently made at least two of the cast bronze dolphin bezels. Along comes 1915 and Tiffany wants another similar clock after Makers was dissolved so Tiffany supplied the bezel and Chelsea supplied the case, dial, movement and hands to complete the clock. The dials are 8.5” and both clocks strike ship’s bells. The Makers clock additionally displays day, date and month. This clock was made for Frank J. Hecker’s yacht Halcyon.

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