An important marine timepiece, made as part of the British race to determine longitude at sea, has been discovered in the collections at the Newport Historical Society in Rhode Island.

Ingrid Peters, a staff member of the Newport Historical Society, recently traveled to the Royal Observatory, Royal Museums Greenwich, England to have curator of Horology, Rory McEvoy, examine a pocket watch from the NHS collections. Mr. McEvoy verified that the pocket watch was made by John Arnold of London and is #4 in a series of marine watches circa 1772. John Arnold was one of several men competing for the Board of Longitude prize to produce a chronometer that would ensure safe and accurate navigation. Only a few of these paradigm-shifting time pieces from this period of technological development are known and in public hands, and the discovery of Arnold’s #4 adds significantly to the scientific record. Arnold’s #3 is in the collections at the British Museum; #1, 2 and 5 in the series are missing.

John Harrison (1639 – 1776) was awarded the Board of Longitude’s principal award for producing the first accurate marine timekeeper that could ascertain longitude at sea. Arnold (1736-1799) is credited with introducing many original ideas and perfecting those of others. This watch, produced in the early 1770s while one of Arnold’s see-saw escapement timekeepers was away on sea trials features a pivoted detent escapement; others had designed such mechanisms, but Arnold’s was a technological improvement.  
The watch was acquired by Peleg Clarke in 1792. Clarke was a descendant of one of Newport’s first English settlers and wealthy merchant of the American colonial period who likely bought the watch from Arnold during a trip to London. He was an eyewitness to the Boston Tea Party and recorded his impressions in a letter now also in the collections at the NHS. The watch was passed down in the Clarke family for over 200 years, as a pocket watch, until it was donated to the Newport Historical Society in 1997.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.