My marine deck chronometer article is now posted,

This watch has hydrographic service markings, and the seller says it was used in South Africa
(any way of confirming this?)
This is a beautiful watch with many wonderful features, fully worthy of V&C. I
welcome any additions or corrections, and hope you enjoy!  
My marine deck chronometer article is now posted, <--click!  
My marine deck chronometer article is now posted,  My marine deck chronometer article is now posted,  
Stunning review of a fascinating timepiece! It's very unusual to have
05/11/2007 - 23:43

a functional watch such as a deck chronometer with such fine finish and un such pristine condition. The Guillaume balance is beautiful and you remain, dear Steve, unparalleled in terms of photos.

Regarding the South African origin the only way to find out to request a certificate of origine but you may get the name of the retailer or the original owner but not sure about the history of your wonderful timepiece.

Its a great watch to have in a collection

As Alex says,
05/12/2007 - 01:22

fantastic with the beautiful movement inside a such well used watch.

The arrow-like symbol means that it's been in the Royal Navy.

All their chronometers were marked with that sign, usually on the dial,

it can be seen on all the boxed marine chronometers.

Thanks Steve for just amazing pictures(as always),

but to me VC is number one, and this is so typical VC,

even a watch made for the hard work on deck,

and still as beautiful as a jewel inside :-)

Thanks from


What a fascinating timepiece. I'm amazed by the finish of the movement
05/13/2007 - 11:54

and your photos are beautiful.

Thanks for sharing

Great photos as usual
05/13/2007 - 12:39

Beautiful watch and gorgeous movement.


nice monday morning present
05/14/2007 - 21:58

Thanks Steve for another great report!! No need to mention your photography, I think we should just give you the nobel prize of watch movement photography and be done with it. :-)

Do you actually know when the watch was made and when it saw service?

The movement just looks amazing for something handled on a ship (you know, salty air, etc...).

I thought to be called a "marine chronometer" they had to be detent escapements? But that's probably only for XIXth century only. How does it keep time? Did you do some time trials?


Thanks, Nico, for your very kind compliments! Your questions are
05/18/2007 - 00:29

all reasonable, I will do my best: I put manufacture as during WWII because a search of Antiquorum turns up about one sale of these watches each year, and all are listed as made between 1940-1945.  I realize Antiquorum is not necessarily definitive here (I suppose V&C would be the best source), but I also note that this same period (1940-50) is the one assigned to each of my other four deck chronometers. The markings of ---  H.S. (broadarrow) 254937  ---  indicate the British Hydrographic Service, whose responsibilities (as I understand them) would include nautical charts and meteorological observation and forecasting.  These suggest that such a watch might be issued to a specialist attached to a Naval vessel or perhaps group of ships.  The seller says that this watch was used in South Africa most recently (but still rather a long time ago, in storage since).  I don't really have any clear way of tracking its movements post-issue. Regarding the use of a detent escapement, I believe you are historically ccorrect as it applies to the much older boxed-and-gimballed marine chronometers; by the 1910s at least some of these chronometers were made with lever escapements.  These deck watches AFAICT simply did not exist prior to at least the late 1930s.  During this time ships had 'clocks' which were used for general scheduling, but these were not precision instruments (nor were they so costly), as well as the boxed chronometers.  Each chronometer would naturally have to be certified, although the various books I have which occasionally show accompanying paperwork usually do not seem to indicate test results, I suppose each unit certainly 'passed'.  Apparently by the 1930s the far more portable deck chronometers such as this V&C could reliably be made to keep time consistently enough to replace or augment the older and clumsier boxed types.  Their size certainly made them much more portable, if barely pocketable, and because performance was paramount, they typically used proprietary movements of high specification, Breguet hairsprings, compensating balances, and technically very good finish.  Production of individual models I suspect is very low, probably in the hundreds or less rather than thousands.  It is this combination of uncompromising design and execution for top  performance, intriguing size and functional beauty, and significant history which makes these watches so attractive to me.  The V&C is certainly tops in my little accumulation! you may be interested in my previously posted survey:


sorry my link seems to not work, please try here:
05/18/2007 - 00:30
Fantastic article Steve. You are a treasure of knowlege! (nt)
05/18/2007 - 00:37