David Thompson

Curator, Horological Collections
Horological collections

Department: Britain, Europe and Prehistory


+44 (0)20 7323 8623

David Thompson studied clock and watch making at Hackney College, East London between 1977 and 1979. He became an assistant curator in the Horological Section in 1979 and has been senior curator of horology since 1995. David has responsibility for about 7,000 objects, including about 1,000 clocks, 4,500 watches and other horological materials. He also manages the Horological Study Room, its dedicated library and photographic archive.

While his expertise encompasses all aspects and periods of horology David nevertheless specialises in the history and technology of watch making in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He is currently working on a catalogue of early watches made before the introduction of the balance-spring in 1675.

Current projects

British Museum Catalogue of Watches Volume II, 'Pre-balance spring watches with fusee' – in progress.

Previous projects

A New Permanent Horological Gallery – opened July 2008.

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Fellow of the British Horological Institute

Chairman of the Antiquarian Horological Society

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London

Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers

Visiting lecturer in Horological History at West Dean College

New York Times Foundation Exchange Fellow 1993.

Antiquarian Horological Society, Percy Dawson Memorial Medal 1995.

Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, Harrison Medal 2009.

Recent publications

D. Thompson, ‘Octavius Morgan, Horological Collector’, Antiquarian Horology, vol. XXVII (March 2003) pp. 302–314, vol. XXVII ( June 2003) pp.406-422, vol. XXVII (December 2003) pp. 618–642, vol. XXVIII (September 2004) pp. 337-347, vol. XXVIII (March 2005) 602-618, vol. XXIX (December 2005), pp.189-216, vol. XXIX (September 2006) pp. 629-644.

D. Thompson, ‘Jan Janssen Bockelts The Younger, Puritan Style Verge Watch with Centre seconds, Haarlem, c.1630’, Antiquarian Horology XXIX, December (2006), pp. 827-830.

D. Thompson, ‘Thomas Martin, Royal Exchange, 1778’, Antiquarian Horology XXIX, March (2006), pp. 344-347.

D. Thompson, Ashmolean Museum handbook ‘Watches’ , Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 2007.

D. Thompson, British Museum Watches, British Museum Press, London, 2007.

D. Thompson, British Museum Clocks, British Museum Press, London, 2004.