A Timepiece. A Masterpiece.
The Geochron continues to be a symbol of American-made engineering for more than 50 years, and now in the digital age.
The only place in the world where Geochrons are built (new or restored) is a small machine shop in Oregon USA with five of us who answer the phone, listen to too much 70’s rock, and help each other as we wrench away (or program) this beautiful mechanical and digital timepiece
Meticulously handcrafted, the Geochron is a rare fusion of art and science, and the only mechanical geographic chronometer ever made. From 1962-2007, Geochron was based in Redwood City, CA, supported by machinists and contractors in the San Francisco area (1987 New York Times article). In a day before the internet, the Geochron was really the only way to represent the Sunrise / Sunset in real time on Earth. It was a big hit, all the way to White House.
In time, the utility of the clock was replaced by computers, but not its beauty and mechanical charisma. In 2007, the original Kilburg family retired, and two Geochron enthusiasts moved the shop 500 miles up the Pacific coast to Portland, Oregon. It was nearly the end of the company because most of the craftsmen stayed in California, and the new company struggled to unlock the many secrets to making this intricate, hand-built clock.
Just as Geochron regained its footing, the Great Recession hit. It was only the new Owners’ generosity that kept the clock in production; and in 2014 they retired.
Patrick was a Geochron enthusiast who lived just a mile from the shop in Oregon City, and bought the company.
In that first year, we were – at times – down to one employee. By 2016, I was ready to quit; But slowly we built a better clock, better outreach to our customers, and cut expenses. My wife has said, ‘Patrick, I wanted to tell you how hard it going to be, but you wouldn’t hear it anyway!’ After Patrick had brought the digital clock to market, things have been better.
Today, the Geochron has enjoyed a resurgence among its enthusiasts, and by re-introducing itself to an old friend: Ham Radio operators. In recent years we’ve updated mapsets, and the clock’s internal drive mechanism with today’s more durable technology. It’s important to us that the Geochron maintains it’s photogenic analog appearance in a digital world.
In 2018, Geochron introduced our Digital 4k computer, and it quickly rose in popularity due to its affordability, and a slew of digital live conditions on Earth you couldn’t see with the mechanical clock. It is because of the success of Geochron Digital that our old clock shop continues to build and restore the collectible Geochrons.
There are only two craftsmen in the world who continue build Geochrons right Portland, Oregon USA, where every clock is handmade. Each new clock takes 25 hours to assemble. Nearby, we continue to develop Geochron Digital too. Between rebuilds and new mechanical clocks, we handle about 300 mechanical clocks per year, and assemble our digital units too. This is what we know how to do, and we’re grateful that – by your patronage – we can keep doing it!
Get in touch with Geochron
If you’d like to contact us, we’d love to hear from you and are happy to answer any of your questions!
Interested in timely information on special discounts, promotions, new features, and the general buzz around here? Check out past newsletters here, and subscribe to new ones too:
Patrick on Geochron’s history.