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Every President Since Teddy Roosevelt Has Owned One Of These Navy Clocks
There’s a little company in Chelsea, Massachusetts, that has weathered 120 years of industrial innovation to become a timeless fixture of state history and a reminder of the golden years of American manufacturing.
It seems fitting that its business is time itself: clock-making. Chelsea Clock first opened in 1897, and within a year, designed and patented the chimes of the Chelsea Clock Ship’s Bell, which have long notified U.S. Navy sailors and worldwide mariners of the time while they serve on watch. The company became the first to supply the timepieces for Navy ships dating back to the early 1900s, when the federal government began ordering marine clocks.
In order to keep accurate time, the Navy needed a mechanism that could withstand moisture, dropping, shaking, and erosion from water salinity. Chelsea Clock delivered exactly that. Crafted from forged brass cases, the company’s clocks are hand polished and sealed with a lacquer designed to help them withstand the trials of sea.
Now the oldest clockmaker still operational in the country, Chelsea Clock continues to produce several clock types for Navy ships and submarines. And every U.S. president since Theodore Roosevelt has owned one. Former President Barack Obama even gave engraved Chelsea Dartmouth clocks as gifts to diplomats.
Scroll down to see photos of Chelsea Clock craftsmanship.
Chelsea ClockChelsea Clock was founded in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1897 and recently relocated to a newly-renovated brick facility just blocks from its original factory. A six-foot diameter replica of Chelsea’s Ship’s Bell clock welcomes visitors from atop the factory’s new clock tower.
Chelsea ClockSolid brass dials are individually hand-silvered to give them the trademark soft glow and reflection for which Chelsea Ship’s Bells are renowned. Any small blemish means the dial is rejected, sanded down, and re-silvered until it meets Chelsea’s high standards.
Chelsea ClockSolid forged brass clock cases undergo over 15 different operations – many done by hand – before they’re ready to be hand fitted with Chelsea mechanisms and dials.
Chelsea ClockChelsea Clock is the largest branded clock repair facility in the country. Chelsea master clockmakers and technicians repair and restore Chelsea clocks – and many other brands – that come from owners across the country and around the world.
Chelsea ClockBrass clock gears are gold-plated to help resist corrosion and stand up to decades of timekeeping – ensuring Chelsea Ship’s Bells are enjoyed for generations.
Chelsea ClockA combination of manufacturing machinery from the early 1900s and more modern equipment produce all of the solid brass parts – gears, pins, cases, screws, plates - that make up every Chelsea Ship’s Bell clock.
Chelsea ClockShip’s Bell mechanical clocks are on the official “test wall.” Each and every Chelsea clock is tested for two weeks before it leaves the factory, checked daily for accuracy and performance.
Chelsea ClockJean Yeo, master clockmaker, has been hand-crafting Chelsea Ship’s Bell clocks for more than 50 years. Jean hand assembles each mechanism, comprised of over 364 solid brass parts – many plated with gold – and an 11-jewel movement.
Chelsea ClockChelsea enjoys a 120-year reputation of being the timepiece of choice for those who appreciate fine craftsmanship and enduring quality. Notable owners include presidents, kings, and celebrities. In fact, every U.S. President since Theodore Roosevelt has owned or displayed a Chelsea in the Oval Office or White House.
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