When you are looking to buy an automatic watch you have probably seen the number of jewels specified on the watch dial. But what does this mean?
Where are jewels in a watch used for?
Jewels (also referred to as stones rubies or sapphires) were developed in watches to reduce friction at the points of heaviest wear. When metal rubs against metal and when oil breaks down or dust builds up, the damage to pivots and bearings can be rapid and devastating and can even make the watch unrepairable. So in order to reduce wear and friction between two pieces of metal that rub against one another, watchmakers use hard jewels as friction points as they last a lot longer than metal.
To combat metal-on-metal wear watchmakers needed to find a substance that was harder than metal and so began the use of jewels (diamonds, sapphires an rubies) within the movement of the watches. Only these materials are hard enough to withdraw these frictions. Nowadays mostly rubies are used because these can be created synthetically and because they have a hardness on the mohs scale similar to a diamond. Initially quite difficult to create and set these jewels, the number of jewels in a movement was an indicator of its quality.
So more jewels in a watch are always better?
No, it is important to note that while it is true that the number of jewels in a movement once spoke to its quality or complexity, today that isn’t always the case. As jewels became easier to produce and set in the watch movement, some brands started to include jewels in places where they weren’t needed, sometimes even to the outside casing of the movement. They then heavily marketed this fact so consumers would think their relatively inexpensive watch was of a higher quality.
How do i recognise a high quality jewel watch?
Seeing if a watch is built in high quality with the right jewels is really hard if you aren’t a watchmaker or long time collector. So we advise you to always buy your watch from the renowned brands who ensure certain quality standards like Seiko. Who have been making their own watch movements for over 130 years.
What are the advantages of jewels in a watch?
Jewels ensure a watch can function for longer periods between servicing and also ensure that the damage to high wear points is greatly reduced. It is worth noting, some brands have brought back the use of chatons (a difficult technique where small brass or gold settings are used to fit the jewel into the movement plate) and in some watches, the setting of jewels is almost an art form. You will see the use of chatons only on the more premium watches like the Grand Seiko.
What automatic jewel watch should i buy?
In the past time we reviewed and owned ourselves a lot of automatic watches and we made a selection of the watches we would recommend.