Mr R. Watson joined the civil service of the Cape Colony in May 1898 and from December 1901 was a general body assistant in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, stationed in Beaufort West. He was still employed in the Telegraph Department of the Union of South Africa and stationed in Beaufort West by 1924, but by 1938 had moved to Somerset West.
Watson became a member of the Cape Astronomical Association in 1916 and was still a member of its successor, the Astronomical Society of South Africa, in 1938. He served as joint vice president of the society for 1930/1 and brought the society fame by discovering two novae, becoming only the second astronomer in the world to achieve this. On 8 June 1918 he discovered Nova Aquilae, and on 25 May 1925 Nova Pictoris. The latter star was later found to be a double by Dr W.S. Finsen of the Union Observatory. Its discovery by Watson was widely reported overseas.