Thomas Jefferson was surrounded by his twelve grandchildren during his retirement, and he took great joy in pleasing them. He traditionally gave each a watch, and directed in his will that this practice continue after his death. Although he owned and gave gold watches as presents, during most of his lifetime Jefferson customarily wore a silver pocket watch.

Primary Source References[1]

1783 January 14. "Pd. Ckarke for mending watch 3/9."[2]

1783 March 1. "Pd...mending watch 3/9."[3]

1783 April 10. "Pd...Wood mending watch 18/..."[4]

1783 November 21. "pd. for watch chain 7/6."[5]

1786 March 14. "Pd. for a watchchain 14/..."[6]

1786 April 11. "Pd...needle for watch 42/."[7]

1786 June 1. "Pd Meyer balance for watch, and key."[8]

1788 January 1. "Pd. Chntrot for a watch..."[9]

1789 March 6. "Pd Meyer for works of an alarm watch."[10]

1789 April 12. "Pd...Chanterot, watch work in ful [sic]"[11]

1789 April 12. "Pd Charpenter for 6. spiral springs."<ref.Ibid.</ref>

1789 May 13. "Pd....for watch chains 11f4.[12]

1789 September 7. "Pd for a watch chain."[13]

1791 April 25. "Leslie mendg watch key &c."[14]

1791 November 22. "Pd. Voight mendg watch 3.D."[15]

1793 August 10. "Pd Voight for mending & cleaning watch 4.67."[16]

1793 December 30. "Pd Voight mendg. watches 1.D."[17]

1794 June 2. "...watchmaker 8/."[18]

1797 March 12. "...Chaudron cleaning watch 2.D."[19]

1798 February 10. "...for mending watch 1."[20]

1798 March 5. "pd Voight for mending watch 3.D."[21]

1800 March 19. "pd Voigt for mending watch 1.5."[22]

1806 July 11. (Jefferson to Henry Voight). "A friend of mine has requested of me to procure for him a plian, but good silver watch, with a second hand, and the works capped to protect from the dust."[23]

1808 January 6. "Voight for 85. D. for a watch."[24]

1808 April 11. "Pd. Joseph Daugherty for Rigden for mending watch 7.D."[25]

1808 May 18. "pd Pitman for mending watch .50."[26]

1809 February 20. "Pd...Kent for cleaning watch 1.50."[27]

1811 June 3. "Repaid Mr. Patterson 5.D. which he pd. Rigden mending watches."[28]

1813 May 20. (Jefferson to Thomas Voight). "Could a gold watch, good and moderately ornamented for a lady, be now got in Philadelphia, for a moderate price, say from 80. to 100.D.?"[29]

1813 July 1. (Thomas Voight to Jefferson). "...for consequence of the war, watches have taken a verry [sic] considerable Rise; and I find that i can get no good ones of that description, such as I could recommend, for less than a $100-00 or 110 Dollars."[30]

1813 July 30. (Jefferson to Thomas Voight). "...I will now ask the favor of you to procure for me such a gold watch as I described in my letter of May 20. That is to say, excellent in it's quality, but only moderately ornamented, just enough to make it for for a lady. On a similar occasion of such a watch from your father in 1808. Mr. Short procured for me a chain of Paris gold (in several strands of very minute links), price 18.D. and a chrystal seal, not set, but in a solid peice [sic], fo the form in the margin price 2.D. I should be glad to receive such now with the watch."[31]

1817 October 26. (Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes). "I have procured from Leshot for Mrs. Eppes a very elegant watch and of the very best construction being of the kind called a cylindre horizontal, the only inconvenience of which is that they require being touched with oil a little oftener than the others. He had no watch of the common construction which was proper for a lady. He required 40.D. boot, allowing only 30. D. for the gold of the old watch, the works being entirely past use...I know that the Richmond watchmakers are as absolute murderers of a watch as your neighbor watchmaker."[32]

1819 April 8. "Drew on James Leitch in favor of Louis Leschot for 165.64 for watches."[33]


  1. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  2. MB, 1:526.
  3. Ibid, 1:528.
  4. Ibid, 1:530.
  5. Ibid, 1:540.
  6. Ibid, 1:612.
  7. Ibid, 1:620.
  8. This gold timepiece was made by Louis Chantrot who worked under the name of Meyer. Jefferson ended up buying James Madison and Nathaniel Barrett these watches, as well. Ibid, 1:628.
  9. Ibid, 1:723.
  10. Ibid, 727.
  11. Ibid, 1:729.
  12. Ibid, 1:733.
  13. Ibid, 1:741.
  14. Ibid, 2:816.
  15. Ibid, 2:838.
  16. Ibid, 2:900.
  17. Ibid, 2:908.
  18. Ibid, 2:916.
  19. Ibid, 2:956.
  20. Ibid, 2:979.
  21. Ibid, 2:980.
  22. Ibid, 2:1015.
  23. Massachusetts Historical Society.
  24. This was a gold watch Jefferson gave to Anne Cary Randolph. MB, 2:1218.
  25. Ibid, 2:1223.
  26. Ibid, 2:1225.
  27. Ibid, 2:1241.
  28. Ibid, 2:1266.
  29. Massachusetts Historical Society.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Ibid.
  32. University of Virginia.
  33. MB, 2:1353.

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