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Don't know if anyone watches the show "Pawn Stars" on the History channel or not. Anyway, the first show of the new season, a person brings in a beautiful Hamilton Model 21. The owner of the shop (Rick) opens the case takes out the clock and then gives the movement a spin on it's gimbles. (Ugh). He then proceeds to say he will only pay $700 for the clock because it is fully wound and not running.
The seller takes the $$ and leaves. Then owner then calls in a "Clocksmith", who seems to know what he is doing and opens the movement and takes out the cork stops under the balance wheel and the clock takes off. I beleive the "smith" charged the owner $50 to look at the movement, but my heart jumped each time they touched it as I don't know they had any idea of just what they had.
In the end, the "smith" said it was worth $2,700 and left the store. I guess what bothered me was the poor way people treat great clocks/watches when they have no idea what they have in hand.
Anyway, check out the 1st airing of the show Pawn Stars on the History channel.
I felt the same way when I seen him spin that clock on the gimble's I felt that poor seller got riped off and Rick should not be touching clocks.
|IHC Life Member
I Think that the "expert" was Fertinand Geitner who taught the Pocket watch class I took three years ago. Had he known that the Pawn Brokers played "spin the marble" with the movment, I think that he would have left the Balance wheel corks in place.
I have a question as I have two gimbaled model 22's that I inherited from my father. I always
thought that you locked the brass tub in place before taking the movement out. In the video, Ferdinand did not. Which way is the safest for the movement?
BTW - Rick could have damaged the clock with all that spinning. Thanks to Hamilton for their extra fine craftsmanship when assembling these clocks. And for their foresight knowing that there would be a "Rick" who would play "spin the bottle" with it 65 years later!
|IHC Life Member
I didn't know this till now, the Pawn Stars shop actually has an auction site where you can bid on some of their stuff & that Hamilton is up for auction;
Well, if there is a silver lining it appears 100% of the proceeds from the sale will go to charity.
I too was amazed that he seemed to be knowledgeable about the chrono but spun it around like he really had no clue.
Although I hate to be picky on things, his explanation of the use of chronometers in the practice of celestial navigation was just horrendous. It was a nice attempt, seems like the show writers read wikipedia or something for him.
As a merchant mariner who collects marine chronometers, the best part was the "they do a few mathematical formulas to find their position". I wonder if he has ever practiced spherical trigonometry on an elliptical spheroid (i.e. Earth) and had to reduce his star sights down to local lines of positions?
He also mentions that they waited until the sun was its highest during the day when they then read the time. Actually this was done before chronometers as a method to accurately find your latitude, as the revolution/elevation of the sun was well known for many hundreds of years and you could find out your latitude (n/s) from the highest elevation that the sun reached. This is why when you look at the earlier sailings during the age of exploration, many of the voyages went north/south and then east/west once they reached the desired latitude.
It was not until post the advent of the chronometer did you see start to see sailings that were angular in nature (i.e. not n/s/e/w directly). Although you could find your longitude by noting the time of the sun's azimuth (as well as the previously mentioned longitude), he conveniently fails to mention that the real benefit is being able to take sun/moon/planets/star sights at anytime they are visible and then determining your location (both latitude/longitude), which was done through octants first and then later sextants.
There are too many inaccuracies to go on, but you get the point. Typical attempt at trying to sound educated about something which you are not. Unfortunately, for many people watching this clip, this would be the only exposure to these fascinating timepieces and how they are used. This art, which celestial navigation is, is a dying practice which needs to be kept be passed onward. In fact, the US Naval Academy doesn’t even offer this as an elective anymore, although my alma mater does, US Merchant Marine Academy.
Please stop spinning it in its gimbals and tapping on the glass. A marine chronometer is much like a lady, it must be handled with care. As for the chronometer itself, it appears to be a commercial model made much later in the run of Hamilton 21s. I was not able to make out the serial number, but later ones (past the Navy run on these and the first commercial ones) did not have the serial number on the dial (it was missing on this one). Also, the top of the three tiered box is missing, which is usually indicative that it has seen commercial service at some point. The reason that I say this is that it was common practice to remove the top part of the box so that you could see this easily as the chronometers were usually placed in a recess in the chart table which was covered by glass. Also, to lead to this conclusion, you’ll notice that there is a service tag located on the back of the 2nd tier of the box (which would usually be the middle tier). This would explain why the guy did not know it was corked, as the corking diagram is underneath this tag.
I’m pretty convinced that it saw some commercial service (most likely in the 50’s/60’s) as Lykes Lines, Grace Lines, Delta Lines, American President Lines, Waterman, etc… all used these chronometers as standards and the condition/markings of this one all point in the same direction.
I saw that show the other night, and felt sick that the poor fella only got $700 bucks for his chronometer. That spinning around in the gimbles demonstration made me leave the room...
The owner stated that it was in his family for several hundred years, so I guess he did not have a clue from the start.
I like the show though.
The Naval academy does not teach celestial, but still issues the Celesticomp computer and sextant for the summer cruises. It was up to the cadre to teach it if there was interest. I found that teaching from scratch while on the water is difficult. Much better to teach on land first when there is less distraction.
Being versed in this, the only way to learn it is to first understand how to perform all the math, understand the concepts, and then practice while still standing on a stationary object.
I personally had a yesr's full classroom training on this, where the first six months were in the class, then six months at sea, then another six months in class and yet another six months at sea. It is only after you've had a chance to practice the basics before you can come back and uderstand and utilize the advanced concepts, such as post-meridian transits and other advanced topics.
I can't imagine being taught this afloat would make one profecient in more than just the basic use of the insturments and sight reduction tables. There is always something additional to learn with this subject, which is why it is so sad that this is no longer taught at USNA in a proper fashion.
Yes, it is sad officers are not taught navigation with mechanical instruments. This is especially true given the potential targets of modern war.
Atomic blasts produce an electro magnetic pulse which can wreck modern electrical equipment. Given that part of modern war planing involves internet service attacks and targeting navigational satellites it would be wise to have old-time navigational skills to fall back upon.
As for the pawn shop guys: The disrespect is clear, these guys are in it for the money.
Greg they still teach the old fashion way in the military I went through a class many years ago still got the comic book training guide and protractor.And went though another later when I went to a combat skill course ran by the Marine's in 2002.They still teach it.
But not the way Navigation was done at sea.The stuff they tought was land warfare navigation.
|IHC Life Member
The "Expert" IS my watch repair teacher! Ferdinand Geitner and as he lives near his Montecito, CA "Montecito Clock Gallery" shop, I am quite sure that his Hollywood buddies had to pay him more than 50 bucks to drive to Vegas and do that act.
I saw that show and was also a bit concerned about the way the clock was handled. But then, anyone who has a clock like this and does not take it to someone who knows what it is worth or even has anyone look at it to see why it is not working deserves to be taken.
Guess some of these folks must be really hard up for cash. Most of the items I have seen on this show would sell for a lot more even on e-bay. I think this was the same show where the guy found an original shelby cobra car. He got $30,000 for it, not a bad price for a frame and shell. But given Las Vegas is where Barrett-Jackson has one of his auctions, he probably could have gotten double that.
As for the land navigation information. Absolutely correct. Still a basic soldiering skill They give us fancy GPS units and a lot of other really fancy stuff, but my butt has been saved more than once because I know how to read a map and use a compass.
Got to say that I am always impressed by how ancient folks learned to navigate. Just goes to show that Mathmatics are truly the science of discovery. While I don't use it much in my civilian job, our world could not exist without it.
The Marine Corps still teaches land navigation with a lensetic compass. I never leave home without it...no kidding. Celestial navigation and concepts are much more complex then land Nav. If you want my opinion, every man, woman, and child , would learn celestial navigation as it is the foundation of all the current technology that we commonly use today.
As a practicer of this skill, I've always found that I've got an extreme positional awareness that has served me well. As you state, it the current foundation of many of the sciences/technology that is used today. Also, think about how fascinating it is that you can use the basic properties of the earth (magnetic heading and the flat 360 degree horizon) to pinpoint your exact position (let's not forget the chronometer of course), all without the benefit of having a ground based landmark to refer to.
What was accomplished by ancient mariners (Minoans, Polynesians, etc...) long before the Explorers is tremendous when you consider that they did not have the benefit of any of the tools that we have today in celestial navigation. I'm not referring to Celesticomp or other electronic tools, but rather just even having a basic sextant, nautical almanacs, etc....
I don't like pawn shops, but to be fair any dealer has to buy low and sell high. As the pawn shop guy says in other episodes of this show, he is not a collector and can not pay collector prices - he has to leave plenty of room to pay for whatever restoration may be needed and then make a profit that makes it worth his while to tie up his money in the item, pay for his store, electricity, staff salaries, etc., cover his losses when he buys something that is too far gone to fix economically and make a profit (i.e. take a loss) and then have enough left over for his own salary.
As for his playing spin the bottle with the watch, yes it is painful to see, but then just imagine how badly these have been treated over the decades by their owners who have no clue what they are or how to handle them. At least this watch will likely go to someone who can appreciate it and care for it.
|IHC Life Member
I saw this episode and must agree totally with Jim and also that this is a rescue. It appears the "corking" of the balance wheel which prevented it from being further damaged in Handling was possibly dating all the way back to the Naval Observatory recalibration of the piece.
I hope that Mr. Ferdinand Geitner, the Watchmaker "expert" from Hollywood area also re-corked the movement avter the "shoot" was finished.
|IHC Member 163
It was re-run just last night. I thought exactly the same thing when Rick spun the movement on the gimble, and said so to my wife.
You're right Bruce, it was the one with the Shelby Cobra.
Well gang, the saga continues. I was able to purchase the Hamilton clock for $2,025, though I have not heard any more from the History Channel production company.
I did call Ferdinand Geither who indeed was the fellow who checked the clock out. He said he was called by the production company to come in and check out the clock. So much for Rick's friend who is a "clock guy." He said it was in great shape and that he did put the corks back under the balance wheel before he left the set. He did not know what may have happened to the clock after that.
I asked him if he indeed charged them $50 for consulting, and he said that was a joke. I always says that for his "free be's."
So stay tuned as the story continues.
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