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Zero West entrust Simon with their birth watch to navigate around the world

As Golden Globe Race rules dictate, all navigation is by sextant and paper charts, a watch being the vital piece of equipment to provide accurate timekeeping for celestial navigation.

Zero West design iconic British engineered watches that are historically and geographically linked to a moment in time. At the core of the brand is a defining line, the main line of longitude; the prime meridian. It’s the line where east meets west; where time starts; it’s called Zero West.

Founders Graham and Andrew have entrusted Simon with the first watch they made, their Birth Watch, for his voyage around the world in GGR 2022. The watch, Longitude L1 was built in 2016 at Zero West’s studio in Emsworth, a short distance from Emsworth Yacht Harbour where Clara (Simon’s Boat) was built in 1976. The watch itself is one of a series of 20 built and has the serial number 0/20.

Before the 18th century, navigation at sea was a hazardous business and countless ships and their crew perished because they became lost. In essence, to pinpoint your position on Earth you need two coordinates: latitude & longitude. Latitude, or the north/south coordinate, at that time could be precisely fixed by observing the stars. To position yourself east/west on the globe you need to know your longitude but this coordinate cannot be calculated from the stars. It can however be established by measuring the accurate period of time from a known fixed reference point, but before the 18th century no timepiece existed that was accurate enough to navigate by.

In 1714 the British government set up the Longitude Act to reward anyone who could practically solve the accurate positioning of longitude, and a pioneering British horologist called John Harrison developed designs throughout the 1700’s to refine and innovate accurate clock and watch mechanisms. This culminated in his H4 marine chronometer design that had a highly complex movement, at the heart of which was a vertical escapement. This British designed marine chronometer set the benchmark which finally enabled the accurate positioning of longitude.

By the 19th century, marine chronometers were the most accurate way of calculating longitude and in 1884, 22 countries decided by committee to standardise and fix the location of the prime meridian. This line of zero longitude was designated to pass through the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in London and so the navigational reference of time was born, but it was the tenacity and pioneering designs of the great John Harrison that enabled this momentous feat.

Zero West have created Longitude L1, a watch design paying homage to the Harrison H4 Marine Chronometer of the 18th Century.

Find out more about Longitude L1 and Zero West.


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