Early American & Colonial Watches

Why Watches? Artistry, Workmanship & 18th Century High Tech!

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

There is a rich history of watchmaking in 18th century America that is vastly more interesting and complex than one can find in most publications and websites. Unfortunately, relatively few early American examples survive and scholarly research has only recently gotten started. The purpose of this site is to facilitate discussion and research.

- Featured Watches -

"A Slave Owner's Watch"

Newly Discovered Gold Plantation Watch from Colonial Charleston

Robert Leslie's Nautical Watch

His Watch & Clock Patents Were the First in America

The vast majority of watches sold in America were imported from Europe; however, 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 retail their own line of watches with their name engraved on the watch. A few American makers made or finished watches. 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 recent Goddard addition to the NAWCC Museum collection) are all part of the story of watchmaking in early 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 recording colonial and early American watches and their watch papers. Please help by sharing information.

Articles on Early American Watchmaking and Watch Makers

America's Oldest Watch Article
Colonial Watchmakers Article
John Cairns Article
S. G. Jones, Baltimore Watchmaker Article
American Watch Papers Article
Washington Watch Paper Article

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