Early American Watches

Why Colonial Watches?

Artistry, Workmanship & 18th Century High Tech!

Early watches are works of art and were the highest-tech product that one could buy in colonial America.

There is a rich history of watchmaking in America during the 18th century that is vastly more interesting and complex than one can find in publications. The purpose of this site is to facilitate discussion and research.

- Featured Watches -

A Slave Owner's Watch

Gold Plantation Watch from Charleston

Slave Owners Watch

Robert Leslie's

Nautical Watch

His Watch & Clock Patents Were the First in America

First American Chronometer

The vast majority of watches sold in America were imported from Europe. Toward the end of the 18th century, when watches became more affordable to the growing middle class, more American makers with English (and Swiss) supplier connections were able to order and retail their own line of watches from abroad with their name engraved on the watch.

However, like a number of European watchmakers, makers working in the colonies also utilized component parts and unfinished movements (rough movements or ébauches) to manufacture their watches. Surviving advertisements indicate that small-scale finishing of rough movements likely began in colonial America around the middle of the 18th century. A small number of American made/finished watches survive. They include watches made by Philadelphia makers Henry Voight and Robert Leslie, Norwich maker Thomas Harland, Providence maker John Cairns, and Massachusetts makers Wheelock & Morse and Luther Goddard (view a Goddard example in the NAWCC Museum). These makers and their watches are all part of the story of watchmaking in America. Incredibly, that story actually begins with the arrival of the first watchmakers from England over 300 years ago and the discovery of America's oldest watch.

I am keenly interested in Colonial and Federal Period American watches and watch papers and have published quite a few Articles on these subjects. Please help by sharing information.

Why not join the NAWCC, the largest organization for clock & watch collectors & scholars in the world

© 2013 - 2021 by Richard Newman, All rights reserved worldwide. May not be copied or distributed without prior written permission. Please contact me if you desire to link to this site or would like to use any of the material.