James William Benson (12 April 1826 – 7 October 1878) was an English scientific instrument maker and watchmaker who enjoyed an excellent reputation in London in the late nineteenth century.
James William Benson was born in Reading, Berkshire, England. He was the son of William Benson and Phoebe Suckley.
J.W. Benson Ltd was a highly regarded London watch/clockmakers and gold/silversmiths who traded between 1847 and 1973.
The Benson family had been watchmakers since 1749. A company, trading as S.S. & J.W. Benson, was founded in 1847 by James William Benson (born in 1826 in Reading) and his older brother Samuel Suckley Benson (born in 1822 in London). The partnership was dissolved on 27 January 1855 and James William continued the business under the name, ‘J. W. Benson’. James William Benson died on 7 October 1878, aged 52, and his sons James, Alfred and Arthur took over the running of the business.
Throughout its history, J.W. Benson Ltd was official watchmaker to the Admiralty & the War Department and also held a number of royal warrants, being watchmakers to Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, the Tsar of Russia and several other royal families.
The company's premises were: Cornhill (1847–64), Ludgate Hill (1854-1937), Old Bond Street (1872-3), Royal Exchange (1892-1937) and their original workshop was at 4-5 Horseshoe Court (at the rear of their Ludgate Hill premises). In 1892 it became a limited company and moved to their new 'steam' factory at 38 Belle Sauvage Yard.
During W.W.I. the factory was bombed, destroying thousands of timepieces and from this point on the company no longer manufactured its own watches, but still continued as a retailer. The timepieces bearing the company name used high quality Swiss movements supplied by manufacturers such as, Vertex (Revue), Cyma/Tavannes, Longines and by the English maker, S. Smith & Sons.
J. W. Benson Ltd continued until 1973 at which time the name was sold to the Royal jewellers, Garrards.