The shift from astronomical to scientific navigation was engineered by the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in London, where in the 18th Century they invented the octant, the sextant and the marine chronometer, which showed the position of the ship relative to the meridians and helped bring an end to countless shipwrecks caused by the inaccuracy of the traditional instruments.
Right from the early days of navigation, clocks were an essential instrument. Initially they were used to tell the time and organize working life on board the ship (watches, shifts, tasks…) and later in combination with the calculation of the sailing speed, they provided essential information for estimating the distance travelled.
When sailors calculated the position of the ship based on the position of the stars, it was also important for them to know the exact time at which the measurement was taken. The clock made by John Harrison solved the problems in calculating longitude and its simplification in 1878 led to the appearance of the marine chronometer, a high-precision portable clock that could be used on board ship.