Caleb Wheaton

Caleb Wheaton, a renowned clock maker, was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1755 and may have apprenticed for his father, Comfort Wheaton. He advertised in the Providence Gazette in 1781 as a clock and watchmaker (Voss) and his working dates are recorded as 1781 to 1827. Wheaton asked a fellow Quaker in 1783 for an introduction to a London watchmaker who could supply any article in the watch business and a few years later advertised that he could supply almost any item in clock and watchmaking to the trade (Cooper and Gleason). It is quite possible that Wheaton was the source for imported wholesale parts for Providence and the surrounding area.

Several of his surviving signed watches have calendars that were a relatively expensive feature at the time that indicates the wealth of his customers in Providence. The extent of work Wheaton performed on them, other than adjusting and rating, and providing case and dial options was likely minimal. Similarly to other respected makers with connections abroad, he conducted the trade under his name and reputation and may have offered his high-quality line of signed "Caleb Wheaton" watches with longer guarantees or lower prices than other watches that he also retailed.

Caleb Wheaton Pocket Watch

Caleb Wheaton Pocket Watch

Caleb Wheaton Watchmaker

Caleb Wheaton Watch Movement

Providence Watch

NTW Case Maker's Mark for Nicholas Thomas Wood

The watch is signed Caleb Wheaton, Providence, serial number 1505 and has a very nicely finished fusee movement with verge escapement and wonderful, two-color dial with a calendar. I am not aware of another two-color dial offered by an American retailer at this time. The silver pair case has London assay letter for 1796-97, case maker’s mark “NTW” for Nicholas Thomas Wood of London, and duty mark of King George III (used from 1786 to 1798).

This Watch is pictured CLOCKS Magazine, February 2012.

American Watchmaking

Additional References and recommended reading:

  • Wendy A. Cooper and Tara L. Gleason, A Different Rhode Island Block-and-Shell Story: Providence Provenances and Pitch-Pediments, www.chipstone.org, 1999

  • Richard Newman, The Anglo-American Watch Trade, CLOCKS Magazine, February 2012, Edinburgh, UK

  • William Erik Voss, http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~silversmiths/makers/silversmiths