Books on Marine Chronometers

Dent chronometer

by M. F. Dent

I was asked recently to recommend a book on marine chronometers. This is not an easy question to answer as I have 20 or more books on the subject on my own bookshelves. The first two books below are the essential ones to have in my view, but there are others if you want to get a more complete picture.

Gould: The Marine Chronometer

Rupert Gould

The first book, on the history and development of the marine chronometer is The Marine Chronometer by Rupert Gould, written in 1923 and still the best book on the subject.  This book has been reprinted many times, the recent reprint is the best as it includes Gould’s notes he made for a planned second edition which was never published.

Mercer: Chronometer Makers of the World

Tony Mercer

Another essential book for enthusiasts is Chronometer Makers of the World by Tony Mercer, very useful for its brief biographies of makers with addresses, dates etc. The second edition is still in print and I find it a useful book. Another useful book, with a good general history, and the best on American chronometers  is The Ship’s Chronometer by Marvin Whitney. I find the layout of the book difficult to follow, and the index is not brilliant, but it is the best book on the Hamilton model 22 marine chronometer.

Bertele: Marine & Pocket Chronometers

Hans von Bertele

The book with the most illustrations of chronometers, and helpful because of it,  is Marine and Pocket Chronometers by Hans von Bertele published in 1991. It was originally published in Germany as Marine und Taschenchronometer ten years earlier. There are more specialised publications available, which all have their place on the bookshelves of serious enthusiasts, including the following:

  • La Mesure du Temps en Mer et Les Horlogers Suisse by Estelle Fallet
  • Les Chronometres de Marine Français au XVIIIe Siecle by Jean Le Bot
  • The Time Museum Catalogue of Chronometers by Anthony Randall
  • Catalogue of Watches in the British Museum VI – Pocket Chronometers, Marine Chronometers and Other Portable Precision Timekeepers by Anthony Randall & Richard Good

There are also several books and articles on individual chronometer makers including Dent, Frodsham, Arnold, Barraud and Ulysse Nardin. A topic for a future blog perhaps?

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