Recently I purchased a Smiths dashboard clock from a fellow in England. It arrived at my house this week. I was pleased that it arrived safely as I had been looking forward to getting this clock. These are mechanical clocks that I believe date from the 1960s/1970s. The clock has a black face with florescence on the hands and numbers. The clock is shown below.
Smiths Dashboard Clock
As can be seen, one of the typical characteristics of mechanical dashboard clocks is that the main watch stem is located at the bottom of the clock. The clock is not particularly big with a face diameter a little greater than 1.5 inches. I would prefer a bigger face diameter, but the size is not a major problem at distances typically involved in car rally navigating. However reading the time to the second requires the navigator’s close and undivided attention.
Rear Of Clock Shows The Magnetic Mount
The mounting capability of the Smiths dashboard clock is quite good. It is essentially a magnetic mounting. On the back of the clock there is a large circular magnet with a central cut out affixed to the clock. Provided with the clock was a small metal plate with two holes that would allow the plate to be fixed to a permanent mount or rally board surface using screws. The small metal plate has a raised central portion sized to fit within the cut out on the magnet. These work together to center the Smith dashboard clock on the small metal plate. While the magnet is a fairly big it is not particularly powerful, so if you have to remove the watch to take a close look at it, this action does not take a large effort to overcome the magnet.
While I have not done extensive testing of the clock it appears to work satisfactorily with respect to time keeping.
The reason for my disappointment with the Smiths dashboard clock is when it comes to setting the time. With every mechanical watch or clock that I have had it has been possible to stop the second-hand by either pushing or pulling the crown stem on the watch. On the Smiths dashboard clock, or at least the clock that I have, there is no way to stop and re-start the second-hand. This makes it impossible to accurately set the time in a manner that is appropriate for a car rally. Having a clock that is accurate to the minute might be fine for getting home in time to watch a favorite TV program, but it is not good enough for car rally. For this reason, I find the Smiths dashboard clock to be useless for my purposes. This misunderstanding of the clock’s capability is my fault – not the sellers. I never asked the seller about the time setting capability of the clock. I assumed that it was like other clocks/watches that I was familiar with and it wasn’t.
The clock was not particularly expensive, but it was not cheap either as I had to ship it from England. As a result I’ll try to sell it and mark this experience down to another lesson learned. Hopefully this post will prevent others interested in using a Smiths dashboard clock for car rallying from making the same mistake that I did.