Internet Horology Club 185
Chelsea Pilot House Clock

This topic can be found at:

July 23, 2019, 13:00
Gerry W. Pickens
Chelsea Pilot House Clock
I am looking for advice. I have a Chelsea Pilot House Clock marked "U.S.Navy" and stamped "ENG. NO.6". Chelsea traced the serial number on the clock as sold to Newport News Shipbuilding on April 28, 1933. Checking the commissioning records for the shipbuilder shows the only Navy ships close to this date as the USS Ranger (CV4) on June 4, 1934 followed by the the USS Yorktown (CV5) on Sept. 30, 1937. I cannot find a Navy inventory number on the clock. How else can I identify the Navy ship this clock cane from?

July 27, 2019, 15:59
Jim Hester
My first thought is to ask why you think it is a "pilot house" clock? From what I can see there is a notation on the face suggesting that it is an engine room clock. Most ships had a number of clocks all throughout the various areas that needed them. What am I missing?

My second thought is that the Navy typically purchased clocks in batches and used them as needed rather than buying them for specific ships. And records of which serial numbers went on which ships have not tended to survive. It is usually pretty much impossible to tell what ship a given clock came from unless there is some iron-clad provenance from a person who took the clock from a given ship, and that is not common as such clocks were Navy property until such time as the Navy removed them from large numbers of ships and sold them off as surplus without noting which ones came from which ships, and not all ships were war ships - there were tenders and supply ships and transports and etc. that all had these kinds of clocks on them.
July 28, 2019, 13:40
Gerry W. Pickens
From Chelsea:

Hello Gerry

Here is what the sales record book shows for serial number 208002 sold to Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company on April 28, 1933 and it was listed as a marine mechanical pilot house clock. This is all the information we have for this clock and we hope it is helpful to you. Because we were civilian contractors for the government we were not kept on a need to know basis of the whereabouts of the clocks they bought from us once they left our facility so we do not know if the clock was onboard a certain ship or in a certain building only the Naval contractor that bought the clock from us and the date it left our building. We do not offer appraisal services here not even for our own products past or present and it is recommended if you need to place a value on the clock to consult an antiques dealer that is knowledgeable in old clocks to provide that service for you

Thank You

Eric Parziale

July 28, 2019, 14:06
Gerry W. Pickens
Photo of USS Ranger engine room. Quality is poor due to size limits.

July 28, 2019, 14:11
Gerry W. Pickens

July 28, 2019, 14:20
Gerry W. Pickens
Newport News shipbuilder commissioning records.

Clocks sold directly to the Navy received an inventory control number. This clock was not sold directly to the Navy but to the shipbuilder contracted to build the ship. The Ranger is the next Navy ship built after the purchase date.

Am I just chasing ghosts?

July 29, 2019, 16:35
Jim Hester
As these were one size fits most clocks there is no way to tell for sure which ship or which location on which ship they came from. An engine room on the Ranger is one possibility but there is no way to say that is for sure. This type of clock could be mounted on many different ships, or it could even have been used at one of the land facilities there and never been on a ship. As such these clocks should be appreciated for being nice examples of Chelsea clocks of that era that were sold to the Navy. Beyond that one would need some hard provenance (old sailor stories are not provenance) to say that such a clock came out of a specific location on a specific ship or shore facility.
July 29, 2019, 18:48
Gerry W. Pickens
Thanks for your advice.