If you’re a regular HODINKEE reader (or just an enthusiastic student of antiquarian horology and precision timekeeping – and hey, who isn’t) you may have heard of Mr. Rory McEvoy, Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory. We’ve encountered Mr. McEvoy on several occasions, and most recently, he was our guide in Episode 5 of The Road Through Britain, for our tour of the Royal Observatory, where among other things we had a chance to see all of the famous John Harrison maritime clocks.
One of the lesser known chapters in the history of English marine chronometers, at least to the general horological public, is that a copy was made of H4 by the English watchmaker, Larcum Kendall. Kendall had worked with both Mudge and Graham, and he was tasked with duplicating H4 owing to the (legitimate) concern on the part of the Admiralty, that the cost of H4 was so high as to make it impractical for widespread use (in fact, H4 was worth a significant fraction of the price of a ship-of-the-line).
His replica is called K1, and it was tested by Captain James Cook and astronomer William Wales, during a South Seas expedition on board HMS Resolution, where it performed so well that Cook wrote, "Kendall’s watch has exceeded the expectations of its most zealous advocate," and called it, in his log, "our trusty friend the Watch."
Like any other watch, K1 needs to be cared for periodically, and McEvoy is the man tasked with the job. Fascinatingly, he’s documenting the entire process on Instagram, where he’s offering a step-by-step look at the inner workings of this pioneering timekeeping instrument.
It’s a thoroughly engrossing look at the mechanism of a truly gorgeous piece of 18th century watchmaking; at the time, this was the Bugatti Veyron of timepieces (although Harrison’s approach ultimately proved too complex and expensive). Check out pendulumgeek on Instagram for more.