For people of maritime professions, spending many months away from the earth, the ship becomes a second home. Therefore, all items of ship’s life surrounding sailors should be durable, comfortable, reliable and aesthetically beautiful.
Collecting marine chronometers, collectors get real pleasure, because these accurate and magnificent instruments are a living history of the development of civilization. The best watchmakers of the world were engaged in their manufacture. However, collecting marine chronometers is not an easy task, requiring, in addition to fundamental knowledge of history, savvy in the technical issues of the construction of this mechanism.
Maritime chronometers were invented during the era of the great geographical discoveries. In 1510, the Spaniard Santo Cruz proposed a very simple method for determining longitude on the high seas – the method of transporting hours. At the same time, the “longitude task” was considered insoluble, and was put on a par with mystical puzzles such as the perpetual motion machine and the conversion of metals into gold. According to Santo Cruz, it was necessary for ships to produce watches that give accurate readings, despite such specific conditions as temperature, pressure, and pitching. In XVIII there was the first attempt to create a pendulum clock of Galileo and Huygens specifically for ships, but in the conditions of pitching they were unsuitable for use.
The lack of instruments for determining the exact coordinates in the sea did not stop travelers in their thirst for discovery. Ships went one by one to the sea, and not all returned later to their native land. Sad statistics show that only in 1707 four English ships and about two thousand people died in the sea. But the death of ships is not the only reason that prompted inventors to puzzle over the creation of clock mechanisms for ships. It was necessary to return to the newly discovered land in order to indicate its presence there and to consolidate the discovery for itself, making it its possession. Watches for sailors were created and improved for almost three hundred years. During this research, the science of timekeeping was born, and many other chronometric instruments, both domestic and special, were invented.
The essence of the clock transportation method was based on the knowledge that our planet rotating in outer space is an astronometric system of the same time and longitude. Each meridian has its own exact time according to the Sun. Even then it was known that a time difference of one hour corresponds to a difference of 15 degrees longitude. Thus, if, going out to sea, you can set the exact hours according to the local time of the departure point with a certain longitude, and take them with you, then by determining the local time of the point of arrival from the Sun, you can calculate the coordinates of the location. At exactly noon, the Sun is at the highest point of the sky, and if the clock on the ship shows, for example, 10 a.m., this means that the difference in longitude is 30 degrees. The settlement system is quite simple. But in the XI-XII centuries, clockworks were so imperfect that they gave an error of about an hour, and in order to correctly determine longitude, a chronometer is needed that allows an error of no more than tenths of a second per day. Therefore, no one believed in the method of transporting watches as a way of determining longitude in those days.
Meanwhile, the problem became more acute, as more and more people went on long-term oceanic voyages. The governments of different countries from time to time promised large rewards for inventing a mechanism for determining longitude, but the matter still did not move off the ground.
June 17, 1714 in England read the bill on public promotion and financial rewards of 20 thousand pounds to the inventor of the exact device for determining coordinates. Luck smiled at the carpenter’s son John Harrison. Initially, he studied carpentry, but then, having figured himself out, he became a watchmaker, making his first watch with wooden parts at 22. Wanting to get a prize, John worked hard for many months, and in 1726 he asked the director of the Greenwich Observatory financial assistance to complete the work. There he was advised to turn to the famous watchmaker Georg Graham at that time, who allocated John the necessary funds. The first manufactured watches were tested on board the boat, in the presence of experts who were satisfied with the work of the young master and advised to continue the research. In 1759, John made the fourth marine watch.
In 1761, the Deptford ship left England for Jamaica to test the next John Harrison clock. For the entire swimming time, which amounted to 161 days, the clock showed an error of only a few seconds. The task of determining geographic longitude on the high seas was solved. John received the coveted reward, and his invention was now present on every ship overlooking the open sea.