I wrote Chronometers while I was living in London, after taking a trip to the museum at Greenwich Observatory, and becoming interested in the scientific history that is on display there.
The holy grail of naval navigation in the 1700s was figuring out how to determine longitude without laborious lunar calculations. The key was to create a timepiece that was capable of acccurately marking the passage of time on the rolling seas. Clocks (chronometers) at the time were based on springs and pendulums that were very prone to gaining or losing time due to the motion of the seas. John Harrison built 5 marine chronometers in the pursuit of this nautical navigation milestone. The museum at Greenwich displays all 5 of these amazing hand built timepieces that were successively built to try and solve this problem, until finally a small enough and accurate enough timepiece was finally arrived at.
Of course, I had to also turn it into a bit of a love song. What’s a song without interpersonal tension? So, I dreamed up a scenario where the maker of the timepieces was working so hard to achieve his goal because his love was lost away at sea on some far off shore, and he was bent on finding her.
"Five Tries at Chronometers, and the seas that keep me from you"