THE LIFE AND CHESS OF PAUL MORPHY                                                                                                                                                                                        Morphy's Watch




Presented to Paul Morphy on May 25, 1859



(from the testimonial program)

The movements of this watch were made entirely by machinery, and it's interior and exterior presents as elegant a specimen of art as well can be imagined. The whole is highly creditable to the celebrated makers and to American ingenuity.


The stem and pendant is exquisitely carved, so as to represent a King's crown. It is set round with brilliants, and another large diamond at its top, which answers for a push-piece by which to open the watch. Upon one lid the United States coat of arms is richly carved in relief. on the other lid, also in relief, the monogram:

P. M.

Instead of the usual Roman numerals on the dial, the hours are represented by various pieces of chess, finely done in red and black - the Black King standing at twelve, and the Red King at six, the Queens at one and eleven, Bishops at two and ten, Knights at three and nine, Castles at four and eight, and Pawns at five and seven. The cap is engraved with the following inscription:


From the testimonial committee of New York
Chess Club as their tribute to his genius
and worth
New York, May, 1859

Morphy visited the American Watch Company in Waltham on May 30, 1859, during his visit to Boston and was given a tour of the facility by the proprietor. Undoubtedly, Morphy was asked keep them informed concerning the accuracy of his one-of-a-kind timepiece since on October 5, 1859, he wrote the following letter (which was subsequently published on October 15 in the New York Saturday Press.)

                                                                              New York, October 5, 1859
Mr. R. E. Robbins, Treas. Am. Watch Company:
Dear Sir:
The American watch, No. 9240, presented me by the New York Chess-Club has proved to be a most reliable and accurate time-keeper - almost unnecessarily so for ordinary purposes. It is now nearly five months since it came into my possession, and during that period its variation from standard time has been but a trifle more than half a minute. The following is a record of its performance. It was set July 3rd correctly:

June 15,    fast   4  seconds               Aug. 15,     fast  18  seconds
July    1,      "     6     "                       Sept.   1,      "    23      "
   "    15,      "   10    "                           "    15,       "   28      "
Aug.   1,      "   16    "                        Oct.    1,      "    32      "

I give permission to make use of this statement as you may think proper. I am, with respect, yours truly,
                                                                                 Paul Morphy