Silver Pocket Watch

Nominated by: Arwen Wood

My nomination for Bucks in 100 Objects is this silver pocket watch found by a metal detectorist in 2017 in the parish of Nash. I’m the Finds Liaison Officer for Buckinghamshire working for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and I record objects found by the public. The objects I record date from the prehistoric to post medieval period, and are usually objects such as coins, dress accessories and everyday objects, so it was a surprise to be brought a silver pocket watch. As the watch is made of precious metal, and is over 300 years old it also qualifies as treasure under the Treasure Act 1996, which meant that a museum would be able to acquire it. The British Museum has acquired the watch as it’s such an unusual find, and needed conservation as the different materials within the object had suffered whilst in the soil. 

As it was such a special object, the Horological Department from the British Museum visited Bucks County Museum to view the watch, and also to view other pocket watches that are in the museum collection. This really opened my eyes to what was in our museum collection, and the different types of watches that were made in that period. I was also unaware how far back pocket watches date to, and find it incredible that this watch was so old. It dates to around 1694, and the outside of the case is decorated to represent a scallop shell. The back plate has engraved on it ‘Oswald Durant Fecit’ or ‘Oswald Durant made this’. By having the watch makers name, we were able to date the watch quite precisely. Oswald Durant was involved in the formation of the Clockmakers Company which was founded in 1631, and he was one of its first members. He was warden for the company in 1645, and there is only one other pocket watch known that has been attributed to him. 

As an archaeologist I’m always asked what the most interesting or exciting find I’ve ever had brought in. This would have to be one of my favourite objects, as surely the most important treasure in the world is time. More information on the watch can be seen on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database, record number BUC-7A4E6C.

This Silver Pocket Watch was nominated by Arwen Wood, Finds Liaison Officer for Buckinghamshire.