Signal Submarine Company



Distance Recorder

The man who invented SONAR


World War 1 Era


Used by Military and Commercial Ships to record distance from a ship to submarines, or to icebergs!!

In 1901,  The Submarine Signal Company was formed and provided underwater signaling devices to the United States Lighthouse Service.  In 1910,  the brilliant Reginald Fessenden joined the company and invented several important Naval devices. One invention was an oscillator in 1911 which eventually evolved into the Fessenden Distance Recorder for ships.

Following the 1912 Titanic disaster,  Fessenden,  working then as a consultant for The Submarine Signal Company,  an early forerunner of a major electronics and defense company,  invented the Submarine Oscillator,  the first electro-mechanical sounding system,  his primary goal being to properly calculate distance  between ships and submarines or even between between ships and icebergs or ships and shore facilities.

The destruction of the Titanic inspired Fessenden, in 1914, to invent the Sound Navigation Ranging device, or SONAR. Based on the reflection method, his “fathometer” emitted a sound wave that reflected off other ships, submarines, icebergs and shore facilities. A receiver picked up the reflected wave and by using the specifically engineered hand held timer/recorder with the amount of time between "pings" determined the distance and bearing of the deadly obstructions ahead of the ships. His fathometer was quickly adopted by civilian and military seamen, saving countless lives.

Fessenden also invented a turbo-electric drive for battleships,  a great example would be the U.S.S. New Mexico (BB-40), that launched October 14th 1915.

Fessenden's inventions were used in Military & Commercial ships for more than four decades. This Fessenden Distance Recorder is an important piece of Maritime History. We did an extensive Internet search and were not able to locate even 1 other available item like this. So, we know they are EXTREMELY SCARCE!!!!

The Recorder itself is an American 16 size, Solid Nickel double hinged case, 49.60mm (not counting the stem, sleeve, crown or bow), genuine Porcelain enameled dial. The super accurate high grade split second timer/recorder was contracted under Fessenden's strict diagrams by the Fine Swiss Watch Company of Leonidas! Classic Vintage Leonidas stopwatches & chronographs sell today with absolutely NO historical connection for thousands of dollars!  Purchase the coolest vintage, rare & collectible watches from Boomertime & SAVE!!!   


CIRCA: Early 1900's


Condition: 88-92%

Excellent Overall Condition



$358. + S/H

Item# M4463-CLF




Over the past 41 years of business we have always taken pride that we strive for our clients and customers satisfaction. If you are not pleased with your Boomertime purchase immediately upon opening your order, simply re-seal the package exactly as it was shipped to you, with the merchandise in exactly the same condition as when we sent it out, and we will offer you a no hassle exchange or refund. Our customer friendly policies are why we have such a HIGH degree of happy return customers. 


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