By Alexander Lawrie
A UNIQUE clock which can accurately predict the sea tides has been stolen in audacious theft.
Scottish clockmaker Archie McQuater designed the Tidal clock to correctly predict the rise and wane of the tides using the sun and the moon – and it is thought to be the only one of its kind in the world.
The one-off – valued at £2,000 – was on display at Craiglea Clocks in Edinburgh, until it disappeared on Wednesday afternoon.
Police believe one man preoccupied shop owner Ronnie Rafter while another man and woman lifted the clock from the wall, and stole another from the display in the window.
Mr Rafter did not even realise the clocks had gone until he was closing up for the night and noticed a French gilded clock had vanished from the window.
He immediately checked the shop for other missing items and discovered the distinctive, brass Tidal Clock had also been stolen.
Mr Rafter, 58, said: “The tidal clock, as far as I know, is the only one in the world to use both the sun and the moon as guides to the times. Most other tide clocks only use the moon’s gravitational pull, but my colleague Archie McQuater decided to try and solve the problem.
“He spent four years developing his clock because normal tide clocks which only use the moon can be out up to one hour each day.
“I think the thieves were professionals because how else would they know about the value of the clock. A man and a woman came in to the shop about 2pm, had a look around and left.
“They then came back an hour later, and when they were in the shop another man also appeared. They didn’t speak to each other, but I’m now sure they were working together.
“The second man asked to see a couple of clocks and the when my back was turned the couple must have lifted the clocks.
“The clock in the window was of lesser value, probably worth about £500, but my main concern is about the tidal clock. It’s so distinctive that anyone trying to sell it on will have a hard job.”
Tidal clocks were invented by clockmaker John Ferguson in the 18th century and mariners have been using his version for hundreds of years,
Most tide clocks rotate twice a day based only on the lunar position, but the distinctive stolen clock has been designed to also encompass the sun’s gravitational pull.
Master clockmaker Archie McQuater put four years of his life into designing and constructing a new version that pulls information from both the sun and the moon as a guide to the times of the tides.
Mr McQuater, 80, said: “It’s a very, very special clock. There’s only one of its kind in the world. It’s my own design.
“I was devastated when I found out it had been stolen. All the clocks I make have sentimental value.”
A police spokeswoman said: “These clocks are very distinctive, and it is likely they’ll end up being sold on. We would ask anyone who is offered one to contact police immediately.
“We would also appeal for anyone who was in the area at the time, and who saw something suspicious, to get in touch.”
The couple are described as being white, in their late 30s, or early 40s, and both of them spoke with local accents.
The man was around 6ft tall, with brown short wavy hair. He was clean-shaven, of average build, and was wearing jeans and a sky blue polo shirt. The shirt had a distinctive white collar with horizontal black stripes over it.
The woman was around 5ft 6ins tall, of slim build, with brown shoulder-length hair, which was tied back. She was wearing light-coloured clothing, a gilded belt and smart shoes.
The man who distracted the shop owner is described as being white, around 5ft 6ins tall, of stocky build, with a full face. He was in his late 30s, or early 40s, and had shaved fair hair. He also had a local accent.