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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
When collecting vintage Soviet timepieces, sometimes you need a lot of patience. For example, I acquired this very unusual -- and very heavy -- electromechanical naval chronometer almost a year ago. But it has only just arrived here on Tuesday this week.

A good friend of mine, based in Germany, managed to cart it in the boot of his car to his home outside of Berlin last April from its starting point in Saint Petersburg. That was the easy part. Since it weighs more than 20kg the hard part was figuring out how to safely ship it to Singapore. Finally, about a month ago, he figured out a way to get it to me. It arrived earlier this week.

Thankfully, because of its hardened steel case and elaborate stainless steel gimbaled cradle, it actually arrived with no damage, except for a broken spring on the cradle. Even the balance staff wasn't damaged. Score big points for Soviet ruggedness.

This beast was definitely worth the wait. I have never seen another chronometer or clock remotely like it.

While the heavy watertight housing points to naval shipboard use, that's about all I can safely conclude. I can't even begin to guess about its specialized function.

The dial and movement are signed by the Leningrad Electric Clock Factory. The components used in the movement, and the overall construction, seem to point to a production date in the late 1950s or 1960s. I am also guessing that the massive waterproof casing points to it being used on the deck of a ship where it was exposed to the salt air and weather (and maybe incoming enemy ordinance LOL). Then again, I might be completely wrong.

If anyone out there wants to take a stab at trying to help me solve the mystery, you can see as a complete set of 27 photos on my website, Welcome to USSR Time!. View record number 1556. In addition to a complete set of movement and case shots, there are also photos of all the ID tags and stamps, with model numbers and serial numbers.

Enjoy…
Mark
 

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Interesting clock. Curious why it is built so rugged. The purposes for which a nautical clock would be used (navigation, calculating trajectories) would not be done on the middle of the deck.

Also, you would think that a chronometer used for navigation would have a bigger second hand. Seconds matter when calculating longitude.

Mystery clock.
 

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Mark,

Maybe this is a possible answer. I came across a link to a Soviet Naval lifeboat binnacle compass. This too is in a robust steel casing to protect it from the elements as it likely to be exposed on the craft. You would need an accurate clock to measure your distance in order to navigate and accuracy in a small vessel on a rough sea could be better achieved with a gimalled instrument for both clocks and compasses. After all, in a lifeboat your survival could depend upon it.

The link is is here

Sekondtime
 

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That seems very plausible. For a precision navigation instrument to be so heavily protected from the elements would point to its use in a very small vessel such as a lifeboat or perhaps a torpedo boat.
 

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The code of the clock is "ЭПЧ-11-2М" where ЭПЧ stands for "Электромеханические первичные часы" which means "Electromechanical master clock".

ЭЧЛ - Электрические часы Ленинграда ("Electric clocks Leningrad") is now named Chronotron and has a long history.

Founded in 1877 by the Saxon engineer Kurt Siegel, it first produced water and gas appliances, and was then renamed "Hydraulica" after its nationalisation in 1917.

It took its famous name when converted to the production of electric clocks in 1946, and manufactured timepieces for factories (stamping clocks) and cities (clock-towers), but also and most famously master-clocks and slave-clocks used in industry plants, schools, in train stations, etc.

The system consisted of a one particularly accurate primary or master-clock (ЭПЧ "Электромеханические первичные часы") and a number of secondary or slave-clocks (ЭВЧ "Электромеханические вторичные часы") which are simple arrow indicators of a time signal wire-transmitted from the master clock. Later electronic systems, modules and appliances were also produced.

Their clocks were immediately of highest quality, since they were based on technology transfer from Strasser & Rohde in the framework of post war reparation!

Just as the famous Poljot deck chronometers ЧП still produced today were based on Ulysse Nardin technology, and the ship clocks 6MX, also still in production on those of A. Lange und Söhne...
By the way, did you know that marine chronometers were set on exact 1:00 PM while observing the fall of a time ball?
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ЭЧЛ once manufactured following types:

  • old ЭПЧ "Электромеханические первичные часы" (Electromechanical master clock) having no spring but a pendulum driven by an electromagnet
  • old ЭПЧМ "Электромеханические первичные часы мощные" (Electromechanical "powered" master clock) which adds an improved escapement
  • old ЭПЧГ "Электромеханические первичные часы гиревые" (Electromechanical kettlebell master clock) which adds an Invar pendulum and comprises an impulse buffer of 15 hours, so that secondary clocks can make up for the time loss when unpowered
  • and many differently designs of the types ЭВЧ "Электромеханические вторичные часы" (Electromechanical slave clock) driven by an electromagnetic anchor.

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All those clocks were equipped with simple switches that recorded the movement of the pendulum or the escapement, and furthered this pulse to slave clocks.

Your ЭПЧ "Электромеханические первичные часы" (Electromechanical master clock) was most likely produced for a (large) ship.

The best source I found is a 1952 technical compendium for the railways of which I reproduce the pages dedicated to clocks.
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As you see on page 875, there is also a slave clock ЭПЧ-10M with a rotating electromagnetic anchor and an ЭПЧ-11M with an oscillating electromagnetic anchor that convert time signals into clock rotation. But yours is a master and not a slave clock.

As a matter of fact, Mark, you might want to contact Chronotron and just ask them some more details about the "ЭПЧ-11-2М", including some pics!

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Your ЭПЧ "Электромеханические первичные часы" (Electromechanical master clock) comprises several Cardan fulcrums and was most likely produced for a (large) ship.
Very interesting and informative emoscambio! We still need to find an answer as to why it is so heavily encased though. Surely on a large vessel, a master clock would be safely housed inside on the bridge etc?
 

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Interestingly, 2МЧЗ (Slava) in Moscow developed and first produced few slave clocks in 1925, based on prototypes of Siemens technology. Then it manufactured with МЭМЗ "Московский электромеханический завод" (Moscow Electromechanical Factory) some master clocks from 1928 on, before independently producing both master and slave units in 1930.

Then they even started producing auto-mobile clocks From 1945 on, a strong cooperation was initiated with the Moscow based НИИчаспром.

Slava was very much involved in electrical timepieces, even in wristwatch based on electrical, electronic and quartz technologies.

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НИИчаспромом

МЭМЗ

Source: Official Slava history
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Thanks for the translation Fabrice, and for the information about the Leningrad Electric Clock Factory. I am familiar with this factory's master clocks and slave clocks and, in fact, there are several in my collection.

Number 1206 on my site (which is now hanging in the stairwell of my home) is a wooden-cased civilian master clock from 1966. I also have several slave clocks, including my favorite, number 1492, which was made in the immediate postwar period (1946-1950) with a beautiful socialist realist style dial and a 'classic' wooden case. Other slave clocks in the collection include numbers 1425, 1426 and 1427, which are more typical institutional clocks from the 1960s.

Strasser & Rohde did not contribute to the factory's master/slave clock technology. The reparations from this factory involved a purely mechanical 1/100th of a second laboratory stopwatch mechanism. I have both a very rare Soviet version of this laboratory stopwatch (number 1521 on my site) and an original German version (number 1522). The master/slave clocks produced by the factory were, I believe, based on pre-war Siemens technology. In fact it turns out that several parts on my master clock are interchangeable with Siemens parts!

That this naval clock was used as some kind of master clock to drive other shipboard clocks wouldn't surprise me. However it is still an unusual movement and I wonder if it did not actually have some specialized function. Soviet factories, including the First Moscow Watch Factory, often gave innocent sounding and innocuous names to specialized military devices. For example, the super-precise chronometer produced with a unique and highly innovative movement for (I believe) the Soviet Rocket Forces in very limited numbers (see number 1331 on my website) was listed in all documents as simply a special expedition chronometer.

I am very interested to get some conclusive information on this clock and I will poke around to find a contact at the factory. If anyone can assist in this quest, I welcome the help.
 

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Thanks for the translation Fabrice, and for the information about the Leningrad Electric Clock Factory. I am familiar with this factory's master clocks and slave clocks and, in fact, there are several in my collection.

Number 1206 on my site (which is now hanging in the stairwell of my home) is a wooden-cased civilian master clock from 1966. I also have several slave clocks, including my favorite, number 1492, which was made in the immediate postwar period (1946-1950) with a beautiful socialist realist style dial and a 'classic' wooden case. Other slave clocks in the collection include numbers 1425, 1426 and 1427, which are more typical institutional clocks from the 1960s.

Strasser & Rohde did not contribute to the factory's master/slave clock technology. The reparations from this factory involved a purely mechanical 1/100th of a second laboratory stopwatch mechanism. I have both a very rare Soviet version of this laboratory stopwatch (number 1521 on my site) and an original German version (number 1522). The master/slave clocks produced by the factory were, I believe, based on pre-war Siemens technology. In fact it turns out that several parts on my master clock are interchangeable with Siemens parts!

That this naval clock was used as some kind of master clock to drive other shipboard clocks wouldn't surprise me. However it is still an unusual movement and I wonder if it did not actually have some specialized function. Soviet factories, including the First Moscow Watch Factory, often gave innocent sounding and innocuous names to specialized military devices. For example, the super-precise chronometer produced with a unique and highly innovative movement for (I believe) the Soviet Rocket Forces in very limited numbers (see number 1331 on my website) was listed in all documents as simply a special expedition chronometer.

I am very interested to get some conclusive information on this clock and I will poke around to find a contact at the factory. If anyone can assist in this quest, I welcome the help.
Strasse & Rohde contributed to the three-dial chronoscopes (see article of German242)

Siemens to the master-slave clocks of Slava and ЭЧЛ.
 
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