It’s always nice to see a company make a comeback, to be reinvented in the modern era. To a large extent, Dent’s fortunes as an English company seemed to vary directly with the British Empire. Thus, the 1830’s and 1840’s bore witness to Dent’s seemingly ubiquitous presence.
What’s widely regarded as the Second British Empire rose from the ashes of the Continental Wars with Napoleon, which had concluded by 1820. From approximately this moment forward, England experienced the Industrial Revolution in earnest, an event which propelled it far ahead of its European rivals. Dent watches were getting awfully popular too. For example, the company’s products were used by members of the British East India Company and travelled with Charles Darwin’s second expedition to the Galapagos in 1831. Even the clock for the Royal Observatory in Greenwich was built by Dent. As English watches went, they were supreme, and since Great Britain was foremost in the world, it can be argued that so too were Dent watches.
Queen Victoria, that famous British monarch, granted the company the exclusive right of manufacturing clocks and watches for the royal family, an honour which Dent held for nearly one hundred years. As impressive as that fact is, the most iconic watch face which Dent ever produced is none other than Big Ben itself. The award was granted in 1852, and Big Ben remains perhaps the most recognisable symbol of London and the Victorian era.
It would have been a tragedy for this historical company to slip away. One more artefact from the bygone Empire would have been lost. But the entrepreneurial spirit lives on in England, and it should come as no surprise that interest in Dent has been rekindled. While there might not be any more “Big Bens” to build in the twenty-first century, that shouldn’t stop any Englishman from supporting a company which for so long served King and Country.