The Scuttlebutt

So What Kind of Clock Is That?

Located above the helm on Overfalls, this is a 24 hour Chelsea Clock. The United States military uses 24 hour timekeeping because it make it easier to differentiate between AM and PM. Two thirty in the morning is 0230 hours (usually referred to as “o-two-thirty”). Two thirty in the afternoon is 1430 (or “fourteen-thirty”). This avoids confusion about what time one needs to do something but it takes some getting used to. Obviously the face of the clock on our bridge takes some getting used to as well. The picture above shows the time as just shy of 10:20 in the morning.

We have three mechanical Chelsea clocks on board Overfalls and one of the routine duties of someone who was on watch was to keep the clocks wound. The seaman on duty would have to note in the log that he “wound escapement clocks”. The term escapement clock simply refers to any spring wound mechanical clock.

The Chelsea Clock Company was founded back in 1884 but still manufactures clocks at its factory just outside of Boston in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Like many companies during WW2, they shifted much of their production to government contacts, providing clocks for most all Navy and Coast Guard vessels of the day.