When you choose a Chelsea, you’re getting more than a fine clock – you’re getting a piece of American history. That’s because the Chelsea story is inextricably bound with the history of our nation over the last century, especially the Navy.

Chelsea has a long and storied history aboard U.S. Navy ships, one that dates back to the early 1900s when the U.S. government began ordering marine clocks. The Navy hoped to take advantage of Chelsea’s growing reputation for nautical excellence.

Chelsea made sure its clocks were built to Navy standards, tough enough to withstand moisture, dropping, shaking, and the rigors of life at sea. Chelsea clocks found homes on ships, destroyers, cruisers, and even submarines.

U.S.S. Saratoga

One of the more noteworthy ships on which a Chelsea sailed was the U.S.S. Saratoga. Originally designed as a battlecruiser, the Saratoga was converted into one of the Navy’s first aircraft carriers during construction to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. Saratoga saw heavy action in the Pacific during World War II, torpedoed several times and suffering severe damage from kamikaze attacks. After the war, the ship was used to test atomic bombs and eventually destroyed by one of the blasts. Today the wreckage is a popular scuba diving destination and a Chelsea clock has been photographed among its contents.

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A Trip to the South Pole

Thanks to the Navy, Chelsea clocks traveled across the globe. Some even made their way to the South Pole, accompanying Admiral Richard E. Byrd in his pioneering expeditions. He was so appreciative for the accuracy of for clocks that he wrote a letter of gratitude to Chelsea in 1936.

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World War II

When the U.S. entered World War II, the whole nation did its part to support the war effort and Chelsea was no exception. The company ramped up production in its factory and tripled its workforce just to keep up with U.S. government demand.

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Due to the wartime shortage of metal, the Navy challenged Chelsea to make a clock tough enough for battle without using its traditional brass case. Chelsea responded with a phenolic resin case that was lightweight yet durable enough that it wouldn’t break or shatter like conventional plastic. You can own a modern day version of this naval clock in the form of the Patriot Deck Clock.

Victory Ships

As World War II wore on, the Navy pioneered a new, faster ship – dubbed the “Victory” ship – to replace “Liberty” ships lost to German submarines, and called on Chelsea to manufacture their clocks. Hundreds of Victory ships were built and served as cargo ships and attack transports in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

Eventually, as many of the Victory ships were decommissioned, Chelsea reclaimed the original 1940s clocks that had served in the war. Today you can actually purchase one of these vintage clocks and own a piece of World War II history.

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By the time the war ended, Chelsea had produced clocks for thousands of Navy vessels. The company was even presented with the prestigious Army-Navy “E” award by the U.S. Government for excellence in the production of war equipment.

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Today

Though production declined after the war, Chelsea continued to supply the Navy with clocks for the rest of the 20th century. In fact Chelsea still produces a number of mechanical and quartz timepieces for use aboard U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine vessels.

You yourself can own one of Chelsea’s military-style clocks by purchasing a Patriot Deck Clock or Radio Room Clock, with only slight variations from those that we make for the U.S. military.