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A Detailed Guide on Watch Jewels

Photo: Carl F Bucherer


As a watch enthusiast, you have definitely realized that the movements of mechanical and automatic watches both have a predetermined number of jewels. This naturally brings up a crucial question: What exactly are timepiece gems, and what functions do they perform? Typically, the watch jewels are vital parts of a wristwatch movement. They are in charge of making sure a movement runs smoothly and effectively. In fact, a movement’s effectiveness may even be impacted by the number of gems it contains.

Watch Jewels and Their Functions 

To begin with, a watch’s movement contains jewels, sometimes known as jewel bearings, watch jewels, or just jewels. They are regarded as tiny artificial ruby or sapphire gems inserted inside the movement’s holes.

We generally know that mechanical timepieces work without batteries. They operate rather using a spring-wound system. Thus, the purpose of gems is to facilitate this procedure. On the other hand, a movement is a challenging assembly of numerous tiny components like gears or springs. These components aid in the movement’s motion, rotation, and, ultimately, the ticking of the wristwatch hands.


Photo: Ben´s Watch Club


Before and currently, the most luxurious hand-winding and self-wound wristwatches in the industry include jewel-encrusted bearings. Hence, the jewel bearings.

Such bearings’ smoothness helps prevent friction from impeding the movement’s ability to generate energy since they are composed of precious gems. Thus, the gears rotate smoothly, thanks to every bearing.

In the past, watch jewels were created from natural gemstones, like rubies. Before then, producers used garnet, glass, or quartz to aid the operation. Therefore, historically, gems were used to make watch jewels. Nevertheless, a few developments significantly reduced prices for movement producers when the opportunity and technology came in. As a result, many manufacturers have recently switched to using lab-created artificial sapphires and rubies. This is because they are not simply a more convenient and affordable supply but also because they are more principled.


Ben´s Watch Club


Additionally, such jewels serve the same purpose, whether artificial or not. Also, to enable the watch to run more smoothly and prevent it from quickly wearing out, they all serve as bearings. Metal parts may spin freely since the jewels give a more precise and long-lasting movement. In other words, the gems contribute to the movement lasting longer than it has previously.

Types of Watch Jewels

One might assume that all jewels are the same type. Well, the truth is, they might be more intricate than just that. Basically, contemporary movements use four main types of bearings, which includes the following:


  • Hole Jewels

Because of the hole that is immediately in it, pierced jewels, often referred to as hole jewels, are quite obvious. This opening is precisely positioned to enable mounting directly on the cylinder or cone pivots or axle of the wheel. In many cases, hole jewels feature a smooth bottom and a slightly curved top.


Photo: The Watch Company


On the other hand, a pivot bearing is a group of these components that, when combined with a cap jewel, create a unit. They thus work with each other to rotate the axle. On the balancing column, however, they form an anti-shock component secured by springs for the best possible impact resistance.

  • Cap Jewels

End stones or capstones, commonly referred to as cap jewels, function similarly to the others. They do, nevertheless, need an additional external jewel, which is located at the end of the gearing shaft.

There are a few practical ramifications of this. First, it ensures that rotating components, such as the balancing wheel, are properly lubricated. This is accomplished by creating a little oil tank between the jewels. Also, the sides of the arbor are prevented from grinding on the jewels by this bearing.


Photo: Awci


This is largely facilitated by the shaft’s cylindrical shape, which results from the production of the gem. The precision of the timepiece might as well be significantly impacted if the corners of the arbor scrape against the gems.

Additionally, capstones prevent the arbor from excessively rising and falling during spinning.

  • Pallet Jewels

Due to their structure, these brilliant gems are distinct from capstones and hole jewels. In the wristwatch movements, two brick-like pallet gems are applied to the box inside the pallet fork.


Photo: Atelier De Griff


By securing the escaping wheel, the timepiece component that regulates energy flow from the power supply to the timer, the pallet fork aids in the basic operation of timepieces. Furthermore, the balancing wheel can rotate as every second goes by, locking the escape wheel. Also, while the pallet fork slides back and forth, the pallet jewels lessen the tension that builds up.

  • Roller Jewels

The roller jewel is the final essential form of a watch jewel. Comparable to a pallet jewel, this roller jewel has a curved top that resembles a tube split in two. On the other hand, the pallet jewel is a flawless rectangular comprising angular sides.


Photo: The Watch Doctor


Generally, this jewel’s function is to link the pallets to the escape wheel. It is, in fact, a component of the pallet fork that the pallet jewels support.

How Many Jewels are there in a Watch?

There is no definitive response to this. Nevertheless, the majority of watch mechanisms have 17 gems. Hence, a wristwatch is already regarded as completely jeweled at that stage. As a general rule, though, if a movement contains additional jewels, the more complicated it becomes.

Other wristwatch movements include 21 jewels, and their settings aren’t different from those of a movement with 17 gems.


Photo: Watch Guy


Furthermore, a piece with 21 jewels typically has extra capstones or cap jewels to prevent the jewels from shifting and provide a better function. High-end watches typically have additional capstones.


Final Words

Greater insight into priceless watches can be attained by clearly comprehending what watch jewels entail. Watch gem, despite being extremely technical, is among the most crucial parts of a timepiece; therefore, you should definitely be aware of it.

For that reason, it’s important to keep in mind that a wristwatch movement’s performance is not always worse than a caliber containing extra jewels. Rather, a movement with more watch jewels merely consists of a caliber that is more intricate and has more functions.

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