Larcum Kendall is known as one of the premier watchmakers in London during the golden years of British watchmaking when the quest for an accurate way to determine longitude at sea spawned some of the greatest timekeepers in history. So impressed with his Kendall chronometer, Captain Cook referred to it as “my trusted friend”.
Born in 1719, Kendall spent the earlier part of his career apprenticed in London to the fine watchmaker John Jeffreys before setting up his own business in 1742 at No. 6 Furnival’s Inn Court, in London. In 1765 Larcum Kendall was appointed to the Board of Longitude as a watchmaking expert and in that same year he was then commissioned to make a marine chronometer, later known as the K1. It was completed in 1769 and was put to test by Captain James Cook during his famous second voyage on HMS Resolution.
Captain Cook is one of the most famous naval explorers in history and is best remembered for three famous voyages of discovery.
Upon his return from this voyage he Cook wrote to the Secretary of the Admiralty (and wrote in his ship’s logbook), that “Mr Kendall’s watch has exceeded the expectations of its most zealous advocates”. He pointed out that, thanks to the accuracy of the K1 he had been able to make accurate charts of the South Sea Islands for the first time. Captain Cook called the K1 “my trusted friend” and had such faith in the accuracy and reliability of the device that he took it with him on his third and final voyage.
The K1 is now displayed at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, London.