He was educated at Bitterley and Shifnal Grammar Schools then went to Denstone College. He then studied Sciences at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, becoming a fellow in 1888–94; he gained first class honours in geology in 1881, graduated BA in 1882 and MA in 1885, and became ScD in 1909. He lectured for the Cambridge University Extension Scheme for ten years. He began to study the geology of Shropshire and his first paper on the subject was published in 1885.
He taught geology at the University of Oxford from 1888, then in 1891 he joined the Geological Survey, working first in Ireland and then on Charnwood Forest. He taught at Mason College and Birmingham University from 1897 to 1906, when he accepted the chair of geology at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, South Kensington. Watts served as secretary (1898–1909) and as president (1910–12) of the Geological Society.
He retired in 1930 and died on 30 July 1947.
He edited British Geological Photographs
- Geology for Beginners (1898)
- Shropshire, the Geography of the County (1919)
- Geology of the Ancient Rocks of Charnwood Forest (1947)
He married twice, firstly in 1891 to Louisa Adelaide Atchison, who died in 1894, then he married Rachel Atchison (nee Rodgers) the widowed sister-in-law of his first wife.
- Boswell, P. G. H. (1948). "William Whitehead Watts. 1860-1947". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 6 (17): 263–279. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1948.0030. JSTOR 768922.
- Watts, W. W. (2009). "I.—Eminent Living Geologists". Geological Magazine. 2 (11): 481–487. doi:10.1017/S0016756800203622.
- "Watts, William Whitehead (WTS87WW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5.
- "William Whitehead Watts, 1860-1947". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 6 (17): 263–279. 1948. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1948.0030.
- New International Encyclopedia
- "Professor W. W. Watts, ScD., LL.D., F.R.S." in The Denstonian; July 1927, pp. 84–86
|This biographical article about a British geologist is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|