Omega deck clock - with a potentially fascinating history

User Tag List

Likes Likes:  0
Dislikes Dislikes:  0
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Omega deck clock - with a potentially fascinating history

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol
    Posts
    2,124
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)

    Default Omega deck clock - with a potentially fascinating history

    This belongs to a work colleague and has a potentially fascinating history. In typical Gary fashion though I've left the details at work, d'oh!

    Anyway the gist of it is it was used on a boat commandeered by the Royal Navy in the 2nd world war. The boat is rumoured have been owned by Hitler and then "Fatty" Arbuckle the American silent movie star.

    The clock was in tern 'commandeered' by the father of my colleague who was in the Royal Navy in the war, based at Scapa Flow.

    Here's a couple of pics taken by my colleague.




    And here's the description from Omega

    Model created in 1936 and specifically designed for the British Navy. Calibre 59 8-D with double barrel, back with bayonet closing, enamel dial marked Omega Swiss Made - Story Barrow, arabic numaral hour hands, minute track, blued steel Empire hands, triangular-profiled polished brass case designed to be screwed-in on a boat dash. Ref. British Admiralty. Item production date 3rd February 1940.

    I'll update this post tomorrow with more details.

    Cheers,
    Gary

    P.S. My colleague is looking to sell this, so if anyone has an idea of its worth I'd be interested to hear from you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    London
    Posts
    3,638
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)

    Default

    How did a clock made for the Royal Navy in 1940 get to be in Hitler's possession? Commandeered by Nazis, then re-commandeered by the British and then the States? Must be the most travelled clock in history! Nice thing tho. No idea about the value...
    Your bleeding-edge Now is always someone else’s past. Someone else’s ’70s bellbottoms. Grasp that and start to attain atemporality.

    the #watchnerd

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol
    Posts
    2,124
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)

    Default

    I think the history of the boat has been elaborated somewhat by my colleagues father tbh M. Plus I may well have got wrong in all honesty, I had a quick scan through it's "oral history" just before I left for home.

    I've got the boats name on my desk at work and it alleged history so I'll do some digging tomorrow.

    My colleague has documented RN evidence about the deck clock but I was intrigued by the boat it was attached too.

    Cheers,
    Gary

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    London
    Posts
    3,638
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by agent orange View Post
    I think the history of the boat has been elaborated somewhat by my colleagues father tbh M. Plus I may well have got wrong in all honesty, I had a quick scan through it's "oral history" just before I left for home.

    I've got the boats name on my desk at work and it alleged history so I'll do some digging tomorrow.

    My colleague has documented RN evidence about the deck clock but I was intrigued by the boat it was attached too.

    Cheers,
    Gary
    Oh. And Fatty Arbuckle died in '33. So the boat's going to be a lot older than the clock.
    Your bleeding-edge Now is always someone else’s past. Someone else’s ’70s bellbottoms. Grasp that and start to attain atemporality.

    the #watchnerd

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol
    Posts
    2,124
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)

    Default

    A bit more information which has been passed down from my colleagues father (who was lieutenant-in-command) to her orally. As I suspected and as usual I got most of the boat information wrong ops:. Well I only had a few minutes to scan the story which my colleague has typed out, that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

    The boat was called the Marie Joao or Mary Jo as the she was re-christened by those that worked on her. She was just over 173' in length with a 21' breadth and had a maximum of speed of 12 knots. She was owned by General Franco and was suitably luxurious with a grand staircase more suitably to a stately home than stately yacht, well until the Royal Navy stripped her out and fitted 4" Boffer guns. My colleague has some of the ships original fittings.

    She was apparently bought by the RN not commandeered, presumable before the onset of WWII.

    Before it was owned by Franco it allegedly belonged to Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle, or 'Fatty' as he was known.

    My colleague has been able to confirm that the Marie Joao was indeed owned by the Royal Navy thanks to the library at the Maritime Museum at Greenwich. Unfortunately she can't trace her ownership before, during and just after the war years, because the Lloyds Yacht and Boat Register reference books were never published because of the war.

    This morning I've googled Marie Joao with, so far, no results. If anyone has any information about either the boat or the deck clock I'd love to here from you.

    Btw there's, what I suspect, is a particularly good Navy yarn connected to the yacht and Fatty Arbuckle, I'll expand on this later if anyone's interested.

    Cheers,
    Gary

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol
    Posts
    2,124
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)

    Default

    Doubt has been cast over the claim that the Marie Joao was owned by Franco. He owned 2 yachts neither of which match the dimensions of the Marie Joao according to the research I've done so far.

    Well the Marie Joao definitely existed and was used by the Royal Navy. I've found a list of the home fleet from January 1942 and she's listed as a calibration vessel used on auxiliary patrol at Scapa Flow. The search continues...

    http://www.naval-history.net/xDKWW2-...Ships1Home.htm

    Cheers,
    Gary

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    1,489
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Default

    Great stuff Gary - very interesting and yes - some Fatty Arbuckle / Yacht disaster stories would be good.

    Shame the Franco connection went west, otherwise I'd have thought that sort of provenance would make the clock of interest to collectors (are they called Franco-philes...?!).

    It'l be interesting to find out more. :thumbup:

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol
    Posts
    2,124
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)

    Default

    For anyone interested here's the Navy Yarn. It's quiet an amalgam of fact and fiction from what I can tell but makes for a damn good tale.

    During a particularly riotous party held by Fatty Arbuckle aboard his yacht the Marie Joao in 1921, a budding starlet, with the rather unfortunate name of Virginia Rappé, was said to have been raped in a particularly savage manor. Rumour had it that either a coke bottle or a lengthy piece of ice was used and the result was that she died of a haemorrage.

    Arbuckle was put on trial not once but a total of three times, accused of her murder but each time he was acquitted. However such was the outrage caused by the trials, in a god and communist fearing society, his career never recovered. He succumbed to the bottle and complete depression which had alway always haunted him, resulting in his premature death in 1933.

    Fast forward to mid June 1943 and the Marie Joao is stationed at Scapa Flow awaiting orders for convoy duty. Strange noises began to be heard whilst moored only at one particular buoy, no. 33. Now every seaman worth his salt would expect to hear noises onboard but these were not everyday accountable noises but a mysterious knocking emanating from the bottom of the ship which echoed throughout the whole hull. She was inspected, overhauled and investigated for any rational explanation but there was none and the mysterious knocking continued. Even buoy no. 33 had a thorough inspection and survey by a diving team and was proved to be in good condition.

    Word got around the crew members that the ghost of Virginia Rappé had come back from the grave and had some affinity or connection with buoy no.13. Indeed this very notion is actually mentioned by Captain James of HMS Iron Juke in RN communications, some of which are headed "Marie Joao - Ghost noises". Here's an extract from Captain James

    "With reference to Minute 111, I would be most grateful if you would let me have your views, at your earliest convenience, as to whether or not you consider that Miss Virginia Rappé, who did not have much luck on this earth, may have visited in an endeavour to obtain her ecstatic desire in another long hope"

    I think the term 'long hope' was a phrase used at the time for sexual intercourse.

    My colleagues father, who was acting Commanding Officer on the Marie Joao, kept the communications or 'flimsies' (Navy jargon for an early type of fax) between himself, Captain James of HMS Iron Juke, the Kings Harbourmaster and the Chief Salvage officer. So there's documented evidence that the Scapa Flow section of the above tale it true.

    However Fatty Arbuckle's Party, which culminated in the demise of Miss Virginia Rappé, was reported to have been held at a luxury suite in the St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco on Labour day 5th September 1921.

    Whatever true or just a good Navy yarn it makes for an intruiging story.

    Cheers,
    Gary

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •