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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chelsea Clock History: The Original Chelsea Yacht Wheel Clock from 1905 to the latest Chelsea Mariner Clock of 2011

Chelsea Clock Company Yacht Wheel Ship's Bell Clock, 1905.

By Jim Dyson, Chelsea Clock Museum
Clock Specialist for Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery

106 years and counting!  In the year 1905 Chelsea Clock Company produced the first of the most iconic marine clock designs, The Yacht Wheel Ship's Bell Clock. The oldest known Chelsea clock of this design was retailed by Theodore B. Starr and Company with a shop at 206 Fifth Avenue in New York City, on July 15, 1905 and recorded in the Chelsea Clock Company factory record book as serial number 15273.

Theodore B. Starr and Company, 206 Fifth Avenue in New York City

Yacht wheel clock was published in the first catalog of the Chelsea Clock Company.

The first catalog of the Chelsea Clock Company was published on September 1, 1906. The Yacht Wheel Clock was featured on page 18 and it was noted in the upper right hand corner that "Patent applied for the Design of Case and Base".  Pictured above is page 18 of the Chelsea Clock Company 1906 catalog.

1905 Chelsea ship's wheel clock showing cocobola wooden spoke handles and Theodore B. Starr and Company name on clock face.

Remarkably Chelsea has produced this clock for 106 continuous years but no record of this patent ever being issued can be found with the U. S. Patent Office. This omission has not hampered Chelsea in its sole production of this stunning design. In spite of a model name change in the mid 1920's to the "Mariner", this famous design has remained unchanged with the exception of improvements in their famous Ship's Bell movement. One interesting and unique feature of clock number 15273 is mentioned in the first catalog. It is noted on page 18 that the Yacht Wheel Clock can be had "to order" with the wheel spoke handles furnished in wood, cocobolo or mahogany.

The original 1905 Chelsea Yacht Wheel Ship's Bell Clock shown next to the new Chelsea Mariner ship's bell clock.
To date clock number 15273 is the only known example with these optional cocobolo wooden spoke handles, all other clocks of this design have full metal spoke handles. Other interesting Chelsea Clocks and their unmatched history can be found at the web site of the Chelsea Clock Museum .  To begin your own legend, contact Skipjack Nautical Wares and Marine Gallery, Portsmouth, Virginia, your authorized Chelsea dealer. A fine selection of new and vintage clocks are available for your examination. Follow the link here to preview the latest Chelsea Mariner Ship's Bell Clock now available at Skipjack Nautical Wares and Marine Gallery.