J.W. Benson London
Benson started up as a partnership between Samuel Suckley Benson and James William Benson. About 1840, they were selling watches under the name SS & JW Benson, Cornhill, London. In Jan 1855, the partnership was dissolved and from 1855 to 1891 (according to R Good) or 1897 (according to NAWCC supplement 20) the company traded as J.W. Benson and the firm moved to Ludgate Hill, after which they became a limited liability company. They held royal warrants during the 2nd half of the 19th century, starting in 1876, for Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, the King of Siam and the King of Denmark. About this time J W Benson also had premises Royal Exchange and Bond Street, but it seems that neither of these addresses appeared on the dials of their watches.
During 1889, J W Benson went on a buying spree, acquiring, Hunt & Roskell of London & Manchester, Silversmiths and Jewellers, and Sir John Bennett of Cheapside. In 1892, the steam-powered factory in Bell Sauvage Yard, Ludgate Hill was opened where Benson transferred his watch finishing operations to. . Here they produced their three main watches, 'The Field', 'The Bank' and 'The Ludgate'. The tradename 'The Field Watch' was registered in 1885. This factory continued in operation until 1914, when it was bombed out destroying 12,000 watches. Although the servicing department carried on at Ludgate Hill during the bombing, J W Benson never again made his own watches after that time. From this point on, they bought in all their watches and had their name put on them. Benson was now solely a retail jewellers, and a very good one at that.
Not a lot is recorded about the company from that time onwards, but it would seem that the original company sold the name to Garrards possibly in 1973 who rather let the name languish. By 1994 the name was part of the Mappin & Webb company (which were part of Sears Holding Ltd) and J W Benson acted as distributors for Ebel, IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre in the UK. The J W Benson name is still used on modern watches, but the watches do not have anything to do with the old J W Benson company and by 1998 the brand name had disappeared from the Retail Jewellers year book, so indicating that the brand has lost most of it's prestige in the eyes of the current name holders, the Asprey Garrard Group. However, the J W Benson name was bought by IWC in Late 1998 and is now being marketed by Chopard GB Ltd .
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