Watson was born in Bendigo, Victoria in 1921. He studied at the University of Melbourne, and received his PhD at the North Carolina State University in 1951. After taking positions at the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University, the University of Toronto and Johns Hopkins University, he became chair of the Department of Statistics of Princeton University in 1970. He remained there until his death.
Watson was especially interested in applications of statistics. He used statistical methods to support the theory of continental drift. He estimated the size of the penguin population in Antarctica, and the effect of repealing the motorcycle helmet law in the United States.
- Princeton University, Professor of Statistics, Emeritus, Geoffrey S. Watson Dies at 76 (news release), 7 January 1998.
- New York Times, Geoffrey S. Watson, 76; Wrote Statistics Formula, 18 January 1988.
- R. J. Beran and N. I. Fisher (1998) A conversation with Geoff Watson, Statistical Science, 75-93 Project Euclid