According to the online Chelsea Clock Museum, John Bliss & Co. bought the first Chelsea clock sold, a 4.5" marine clock SN 203, on 9/2/1897. According to the serial number list on that site, this 4.5" Ship's Bell clock, SN 207,910, dates between 1930 and 1934. Note this is not a chronometer, which was used just for navigaton purposes, but a quality marine clock, used to tell time of day aboard ship or elsewhere. Despite some recent cleaning this clock appears to have been used in a marine environment, so may have been aboard a vessel.

Click on the thumbnails below for bigger pictures.

Clock on wooden base

Back of clock


Very clean movement
Movement back plate
Bliss signature

The Bliss signature is printed or painted on the dial, and over the years the corrosion has made it hard to see. I can't tell if there was a Chelsea signature on the lower half of the dial or not. Chelsea made many clocks for retailers with just the retailer's name on them. Besides those sold by Bliss, Tiffany also sold many Chelsea clocks with the Tiffany name on them. I assume this was done early in Chelsea's production; later clocks labeled for Bliss and for Tiffany and other retailers have both the retailer's name and the Chelsea name on them. I don't know when or why the change occurred; perhaps Chelsea's reputation had grown to the point that the Chelsea name was a selling point.

This is a standard style ship's bell clock with a screw on bezel which is better for use in a marine environment than the alternative hinged bezel. The micrometer regulator characteristic of Chelsea clocks today had not yet been developed, so this has a lever regulator above the 12 on the dial. The modern Silent/Strike lever was also a later development, and is not found on this example.

The case is also different from modern Chelsea ship's bell clocks, as it has a boss on the back beside the mounting screws for the bell (actually a coiled gong) to carry the sound to the surface on which the clock was mounted, to increase the bell's sound. This allowed the Chelsea clock to use a completely closed brass case, unlike the ship strike clocks of other manufacturers which either had holes in the case to let the bell sound out, or holes for a striker to hit an external bell. Allowing the bells to be heard without holes in the case made the Chelsea clock more suitable for a marine environment. Modern Chelsea clocks don't have the boss, and do have a hole with a cover plate to allow the owner to adjust the strike hammer for best sound. The bell sound is just as good in a modern clock as this one, so it appears the extra boss isn't necessary.

Text copyright Norman Bliss 2009, pictures courtesy Paul Crnic.

Page created 6/16/11.

Modified 12/13/11