Each Ship’s Bell clock is made and assembled by hand at our factory in Chelsea, Massachusetts. It takes up to four weeks to craft each timepiece, which is made with over seven pounds of solid brass and more than 364 precision parts – including gears, pins, plates, and screws – as well as our patented 11-jewel movement. All of our Ship’s Bell clocks mark the hours not only by their handsome, hand-silvered dials, but by rich, mellow chimes – the same way they have since these timepieces were first introduced in 1900.
And, just in case you don’t already know about the Ship’s Bell code, here’s a quick lesson:
Mariners have used a unique bell code to tell time at sea for hundreds of years. The code is based on the crew’s typical workday routine while the vessel is under way. A ship at sea requires constant attention throughout the day’s twenty-four hours. Therefore, the day is divided into six, four-hour periods, each called a “watch.” Similarly, the crew is broken up into three divisions. Division members stand their individually assigned duties on two watches per day, with eight hours off duty between watches. To rotate each division’s watch times, the Evening Watch is periodically divided into two watches. These are called Dog Watches because they “dog” the watch schedule for all divisions ahead by one watch period.
First Watch 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Mid-Watch (also Black Watch) 12:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.
Morning Watch 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
Forenoon Watch 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Afternoon Watch 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Evening Watch 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The watch officer struck the ship’s bell every half hour to apprise the crew of the time. A single bell denoted the end of the first half hour, and one bell was added each half-hour. Eight bells therefore signaled the end of each four-hour watch.
8 bells: 12:00, 4:00, 8:00
1 bell: 12:30, 4:30, 8:30
2 bells: 1:00, 5:00, 9:00
3 bells: 1:30, 5:30, 9:30
4 bells: 2:00, 6:00, 10:00
5 bells: 2:30, 6:30, 10:30
6 bells: 3:00, 7:00, 11:00
7 bells: 3:30, 7:30, 11:30
Chelsea Clock Ship’s Bell clocks have – and always will – follow this same sequence. So, like centuries of seafarers, Chelsea Ship’s Bell clock owners know the time even when they can’t see it – by its signature chimes!