Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Manufactured by:
American Watch Company, American, 1850 - 1957  Search this
Used by:
Matthew A. Henson, American, 1866 - 1955  Search this
Subject of:
Matthew A. Henson, American, 1866 - 1955  Search this
Robert E. Peary, American, 1856 - 1920  Search this
nickel , metal and glass
H x W x D: 3 1/4 × 2 1/4 × 3/4 in. (8.3 × 5.7 × 1.9 cm)
pocket watches
Place used:
North Pole, Arctic
Greenland, Cape Morris Jessup, North and Central America
Place made:
Waltham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, North and Central America
1888-1889; inscribed 1908 or 1909
An engraved watch that is believed to be the watch carried by Matthew Henson (1866-1955) on his exploration of the North Pole along with Adm. Robert E. Peary from July 6, 1908 to April 23, 1909. Henson is an iconic figure among American pioneering explorers. During the 1908-09 expedition led by Admiral Peary (whom he assisted on several Arctic expeditions over a 20-year period), Henson became the first man to reach the North Pole. For his achievements, Henson received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944. In 2000, the National Geographic Society awarded Henson the Hubbard Metal – its highest award.
This pocket watch belonged to Matthew Henson and is engraved with his initials. The watch is silver in color and the words [R.E. PEARY / NORTH POLE / EXPEDITION / 1908] are engraved on the front in an Edwardian style. Henson's initials [M.A. HENSON] are engraved on the side. The watch has a white face with black hands and roman numerals. The watchmaker's name [Am. Watch Co. / WALTHAM] is printed in the top center of the face. The inside of the watch is engraved with the watchmaker's name [American Waltham Watch Co.] and the serial number [3639616].
African American  Search this
Men  Search this
Nature  Search this
Science  Search this
Technology  Search this
U.S. History, 1865-1921  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Tools and Equipment-Personal use
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture