London Watch With John Wesley Provenance

Stock No. 1917

William Garrett
London, c1775
Silver pair cases, 52mm
Verge escapement, alarum


A fine 18thc. verge watch, with alarm, reputed to be originally owned by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, with convincing provenance.

MOVEMENT : An excellent quality gilt verge movement, with finely engraved and pierced balance cock, and large diamond endstone. Blued steel screws, four round pillars and silver regulator disk. The movement is wound through the balance cock table and the alarm movement also wound from the back.

Signed Wm. Garrett, London and numbered 1773.

Both watch and alarm movement are working well.

DIAL : A fine original white enamel dial, with alarm setting via a steel square at 2.
This alarm setting feature is very rare on an English watch of this period.

In excellent condition except for one hairline running from the centre towards the edge at 6:30.

Good early steel beetle and poker hands. Steel alarm indicator.

INNER CASE : No hallmarks but maker’s mark HB under the steel bell. Beautifully pierced and engraved throughout with a finely engraved mask on the band.. The high dome bull’s eye crystal is fine and the bezel closest correctly.

The bell is original and has the name ‘Drury’ scratched on it. These were London bell makers throughout the 18th century.

OUTER CASE : A heavy silver case.

All in very good condition. The hinge, catch button and catch are fine and the case snaps shut correctly.

The case has a very early fabric liner, embroidered with :

The best of all is
is with us

This is said to have been cried out by John Wesley’s as he lay dying.

The watch is accompanied by a good gilt key on a silver chain.

William Garrett is listed in London pre 1777 until 1815. There are not many documented watches by William Garrett. The only example that I can find is a very fine gold and enamel watch, set into a gold perfume flask, made for the Chinese market in about 1775.

PROVENANCE : This is in the form of a beautifully written declaration by JEW Peterson (a previous owner of the watch), signed by a Commissioner of Oaths in 1934. It includes a detailed description of the ownership history, as well some fascinating observations about the relationship between the maker (William Garrett) and John Wesley.

The summary of this ownership history is as follows :

The watch was made by William Garrett, in about 1775.
Given or sold to John Wesley.
Bequeathed to Joseph I Bradford (c. 1748-1808), his assistant and traveling companion
Bequeath to his son Joseph II Bradford, printer of the Methodist Times
Passed on in 1838 to William Peterson (d. 1899), rector of Biddenden, Kent
Then to J. Edward Wittred Lloyd Peterson (1849- post 1934)
Then to Edward Wittred Peterson
Finally to his cousin and goddaughter

According to a memorandum by William Peterson, Rector of Biddenden written in 1880, transcribed in JEW Peterson’s sworn statement, watchmaker John Bowen, to whom the watch was entrusted by Peterson for overhaul, claimed that watchmaker William Garrett (d. 1801?), was a friend of Wesley. Indeed, in Wesley’s diary, there are two mentions of a ‘Mr. Garrett’ (March 26, 1783 and January 25, 1786), with whom Wesley took tea.