What Is a Nautical Clock?


A nautical clock is sometimes also called a ship’s clock or bell clock. Some may also confuse a ship’s clock with a marine chronometer but the latter was used to determine distance based on time.


For those fascinated by all things nautical, a ship’s clock is a true collectors item. Glenbryde has a small but valuable collection of ship’s clocks that are sure to spur your sailing dreams. Placed at home, ship’s clocks are an incredible talking point for dinner parties. Hear the chime and imagine you are out on the water. Colloquially simply referred to as a ship’s clock, their true name is a bell clock. The bell refers to the chime that follows a special sequence to announce the passing of time..

You can use this

History of Ship’s Clocks


Having been around for centuries, bell clocks are an important part of history.


Who Invented the Ship’s Bell Clocks?


Who qualifies as the true inventor of bell clocks is contested. Some attribute it to the British clockmaker John Harrison while others refer to the French Ferdinand Berthoud and Pierre Le Roy.


How Do Ship’s Clocks Work?


The clock mechanism within a ships clock is often the same as found in a carriage clock, however the strike mechanism is different.  More details below.


Ship’s Clocks Mechanisms


Ships clock mechanisms can either be mechnical or quartz. The chiming sequence is made by a brass bell which can differ in size.


How Do They Keep Time on a Ship?


Using a ship’s clock, crew on a ship can tell the time by the chime pattern. A 24-hour day is divided into 8 x 4 hours and the clock will sound out a different sequence every 4 hours. A single bell is heard every 30 minutes.


Are Ship’s Clocks Accurate?


Bell clocks were designed to track the passing of watches rather than the time of day. The most accurate clock on a ship is a marine chronometer which was designed for the measuring of distance.


How Do You Set a Ship’s Clock?


You can adjust the time by moving the minute hand clockwise. Since ship’s clocks are designed to chime every half hour, it is important that you let it finish its sequence when it reaches the 30 minute and 60 minute mark.


Buying Ship’s Clocks


Ship’s clocks are very collectable and can be used on a boat or at home. 


Where Can I Buy a Ship’s Clock?


Glenbryde has ship’s clocks made in Germany by Hermle.   Contact us for more information on how they work.