History

 

  • 1809: James Ritchie opened for business in 1809 at 29 Leith Street. In addition to selling watches, the craftsman made his living repairing and cleaning watches. 
  • In 1810 Madame Tussaud visited the shop in Leith Street where she had two watches repaired during her stay in Edinburgh while she had an exhibition at the Panorama, Leith Walk.
  • 1814: James was made a Burgess of the City of Edinburgh and the business flourished.

  • In 1819 he took over Joseph Durward's clockmaking firm which had been established in 1775.
  • 1814: James's eldest son, Frederick James Ritchie, became a partner in the firm, which moved to 25 Leith Street in 1850's.
  •  1853: Frederick James Ritchie, worked with Professor Charles Piazzi Smyth, the Astronomer Royal, and Chief Master Gunner Findlay in setting up the Time Ball on the Nelson Monument on top of Calton Hill, in Edinburgh. 

  • The monument was built between 1807 and 1815 to commemorate Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The Time Ball was added as a visual time signal to shipping in Leith harbour and on the Firth of Forth, allowing the ships to set their chronometers. At precisely one o'clock each day the ball dropped. It was not however very effective as it required a constant look out before the scheduled time and clear visibility. 

  • 1861: It was decided to introduce a simultaneous firing of a cannon to provide an audible signal. Originally an 18-pound muzzle loading cannon located at the Half Moon Battery of Edinburgh Castle was used. It needed four men to load and fire the gun which could be easily heard by ships in the harbour at Leith some 3 kms away.
  • 1872: Frederick James Ritchie further developed inventions of Bain and Wheatstone in the field of electric timekeeping. 

  • 1873: Frederick Ritchie read a paper to the Royal Scottish Society of Arts in April 1873. His synchronised clocks were by then in use in the Liverpool Observatory, besides Edinburgh itself, and in a variety of other places. 
  • 1873: The company opened a branch at 131 Princes Street which, in addition to specialising in watches and clocks, quickly built up a reutation for seeling high quality jewellery, gems and silver plate

  • 1903: James Ritchie & Son designed the mechanism for the first floral clock in the world which is situated in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.
  • 1912: James Ritchie & Son manufactured and presented a non-dial chiming clock to St Giles Kirk in 1912.