The first President of The Watt Club was John E. Vernon, an Edinburgh jeweller.

The first graduate of the University (or its predecessors) to be President was Thomas Rowatt in 1937-38. He was Director of the Royal Scottish Museum (now National Museums Scotland). The last non-graduate to serve as President was Dr Duncan Cameron, former Secretary of Heriot-Watt University, in 1992-93.

Since 1854, the 122 Presidents of The Watt Club have included:

  • Twenty-nine Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, including three Vice-Presidents and two Presidents
  • Three Lord Provosts of Edinburgh
  • The inventor of the steam catapult on aircraft carriers
  • The four Principals of Heriot-Watt College and two Principals of Heriot-Watt University
  • A Knight of the Thistle, the premier order of chivalry in Scotland
  • A descendent of James Watt
  • Two Directors of what is now National Museums Scotland
  • A President of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)
  • A member of the famous Stevenson family of lighthouse builders