Titanic Watch in Australian NMM Exhibition

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Inger Sheil

The About Time exhibition was launched last week at the Australian National Maritime Museum - first time I've ever had a chance to hold an Olympic gold medal, I might add as an aside. This superb exhibition examines concepts of time and timekeeping, with a particular reference to maritime links. The Museum enjoys an excellent relationship with the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and there are some wonderful items on loan (in particular I was drawn to pocket watches connected with Franklin's expeditions...the first from an earlier attempt, the second recovered many years later by a search party).

Also on loan from Greenwich is Robert Douglas Norman's watch, recovered with his body and stopped just after 3.00. It was Norman who played the piano at a hymn service presided over by Rev Ernest Carter on the evening of the 14th April.

When the Museum staff were discussing the items being used in the exhibition, I remember one drawing particular attention to the poignancy of the watch, and what a potent symbol it was for some of the concepts About Time was exploring.

A stopped, water damaged watch says much about the transience of existence.

Christina Rindt

Former Member
The picture of the watch recovered from R.D.Norman's body is on the front of the "Titanic, fortune and fate" and is what still mesmorises me whenever I look at it. You're right in that it is poignant that it stopped at 3.06 when he fell into the water. It always brings a lump to my throat.

Paul Lee

From the website:

"The time the watch stopped, 3.07 – when water entered the case – probably indicates that Norman had not set his watch since the previous day."

There was a thread about this clock somewhere on the forum, particularly the time it read. If the above blurb is correct, then it implies that Titanic's clocks were set back by the 47 minutes planned for the night/morning of 14th/15th April. But there does seem to be some debate as to whether this happened!

Best wishes


The probable cause for the 3:07 position of the hands is that Mr. Norman made a simple mistake that night. He apparently set his watch ahead by 47 minutes that evening instead of back. The hands on his pocketwatch are stopped at 2:20 a.m. + 47 minutes, which equals 3:07 a.m.

If Norman had retarded his timepiece properly, it would have stopped at 2:20 - 47 minutes, or 1:33 a.m.

When the 3:07 a.m. time on Mr. Norman's pocketwatch is corrected to 2:20 a.m., it corresponds very closely to the stopping time of 2:22 a.m. shown on the timepieces carried into the water by Col. Gracie and Jack Thayer.

-- David G. Brown
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