Bernard B. Watson, 66, a retired physicist who had worked for the federal government and private firms here, died Wednesday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda after a heart attack.

Born in Philadelphia, he was a graduate of Temple University and received a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology, where he later was a senior research fellow in 1947 and 1948.

Dr. Watson had taught physics at Arizona State University, the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University.

He came to Washington in 1949, as a specialist in physics in the division of higher education of the U.S. Office of Education of the U.S. Office of Education. He later transferred to the Labor Department, where he established defense manpower policies for scientific personnel.

In 1953, Dr. Watson joined the Johns Hopkins University Operations Research Office in Chevy Chase as a physicist. He remained with the organization when it became the Research Analysis Corp., and then the General Research Corp., and moved to McLean.

In 1963 and 1964, he was an exchange scientist with the British Army Operational Research Establishment in Surrey, England.

Dr. Watson retired from the General Research Corp. in 1975. Since then, he had been an agent with Van Slycke and Reeside Travel Associates, Inc.

He was a member of the Joint Board on Science Education of the Greater Washington Area, which was sponsored by the Washington Academy of Sciences and the D.C. Council of Engineering and Architectural Societies. A member of numerous other scientific organizations, he was the author of a number of texts in his field.

He is survived by his wife, Etta, of the home in Bethesda; a son, Matthew, of Washington; a daughter, Reba R. Heyman, of Rockville; a brother, Tobias, of Palos Verdes, Calif., and six grandchildren.