17 Jewels Watch

Watch making is truly something of an art form and there are a few different ways in which these highly skilled craftsmen and women create watches that move. A lot of the time, watches will feature bearings which are used to get the gears of the watch in motion.

While there are different things used as bearings in a watch, some of the higher end products make use of gems and jewels. That’s right, it isn’t only your precious stone necklace or ring that makes use of these beautiful stones.

Of course, the difference is that in watch making the stones are not used to aesthetics but serve a more practical purpose. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about jewels in watches as well as the highly acclaimed 17 jewel watch.

Single Jewel Watch
A Single Jewel Watch

What Purpose Do Jewels Serve In A Watch?

While most of us wear a watch without giving it much thought, these are actually incredibly technical pieces of equipment. Inside your wristwatch, there is a staggering number of small parts that work together to show the time. In fact, there are some watches that have up to 2800 separate parts and they all fit into that tiny timepiece. That’s pretty amazing, if you ask me!

Inside the watch, you’ll find things like a barrel bridge, the level pivot, the balance, the ratchet wheel and many other parts. In addition to this, you may find jewels in some timepieces. This was a concept that watchmakers first came up with in order to reduce excess friction. They are known as jewel bearings and prevent all those metal pieces from grinding on one another.

Precious stones inside the watch can be strategically placed to reduce the friction from those grinding metal parts owing to the fact that they are so tough, they’ll easily withstand any friction without getting damaged in the way that metal can.

Origin of the Watch
Origin of the Watch
Types Of Jewels In Watches

Watchmakers use several different types of jewels in their timepieces so let’s take a closer look at each of their purposes.

  • Hole jewels are custom sized and are among the most common watch jewels in the industry. They are pressed into the gear train wheel and are so called because they are able to fit into holes inside the watch, providing additional structural support.
  • Cap jewels may also be called endstones and they work in a very similar manner to the hole jewel. However, they are set in a different part of the timepiece. Usually, two of these jewels will be placed together to act as a bearing structure and between them, oil can pool which serves as a lubricant for the moving parts.
  • Pallet jewels are slightly different in that they have a unique shape compared to hole or cap jewels. They look more like a brick and are used in pairs inside the watch movement in order to box in the pallet fork. As this part moves back and forth, the pallet jewel will reduce friction, allowing for smoother movement.
  • Roller jewels have a similar appearance to the pallet jewel but its top is more rounded. These jewels are used to connect the pallets to the escape wheel and are placed inside the pallet fork.

What Is A 17 Jewel Watch?

When shopping for a new watch, you’ll naturally be looking for the best that money can buy. That’s why most people would choose a 17 jewel watch which is sometimes called a fully jeweled watch.

These fully jeweled watches contain 17 gems which are used all the way from the balance wheel to the center wheel pivot. More often than not, watch makers will opt for rubies in these watches.

17 Jewels Watch
Watches with jewels can be complex!

What Is The Highest Number Of Jewels In A Watch?

While 17 jewel watches are considered “fully jeweled”, they’re certainly not at the peak of jeweled watches. There are those that contain as many as 21 jewels. There is less chance of positional error with these watches that have a couple of additional cap stones.

But it can go even further than that. Where the 17 jewel watch is normally a fully mechanical timepiece, there are other watches that have as many as 25 to 27 jewels. These watches are usually automatic or self winding.

If you want to think about the watch with the most jewels then you’d be looking at a timepiece by Romain Gauthier called the Logical One which contains as many as 63 stones. At the time of writing, this watch is one of thosewith the highest number of jewels.

If that blew your mind then just wait until you hear about the most complicated watch in the world which had an amazing 242 stones! This was the Vacheron Constantin made by a manufacturer with more than 260 years of experience. The watch was so complex, it is now valued at a whopping $8 million!

Is It Better To Have More Jewels?

We have been conditioned, in most situations, to think that more is better. But is that the case when it comes to the number of jewels within a watch?

To answer this question, we have to consider why there are jewels in watches in the first place. As I have discussed, the main reason for their presence is to act as a bearing which removes friction in the internal workings of the timepiece. This prevents the components from wearing out too quickly.

The standard mechanical watch will feature around 17 jewels but there are, as we have learned, some that contain an extra few, making it 21. Again, this is pretty standard practice.

However, there are elements of certain watches that could be considered to be a high complication. This might include things like a chronograph, a perpetual calendar or tourbillon watches. In these cases, it is necessary to have a larger number of internal parts. As a direct result of this, more bearings will be needed to reduce friction.

So, while the number of jewels doesn’t necessarily tell you how good the watch is, it does tell you how complex the design is. Also, it’s important to remember that some thinner watches have more jewels so this could also indicate how thin the watch is.

Are 17 Jewel Watches Worth Anything?

You may have asked yourself how much is a 17 jewel watch worth? Well, the answer to that question is that it really depends on the watch as opposed to how many jewels are inside.

It is thought that the vintage watch market will rise by as much as 5% in the coming four years. But how many jewels are in your timepiece really won’t have much of an effect on the value. However, there may be a slight exception to this.

When watchmakers first began using precious stones in their creations, the stones were numbered by a mark on the back of them. Typically, things like emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were the stones of choice for the best watchmakers. But today, it’s rare that real jewels are used in watchmaking so the value of the piece isn’t really affected. However, if you have a timepiece that is made with real gems then this could boost how much you’ll be able to sell it for.

It’s always important to note the number engraved on the back of the jewel in a watch as this also relates to import and export laws. While the stones used in watchmaking are very small, selling them in bulk could cash up some serious dollars.

17 Jewels Watch
Watch Jewels

Do Quartz Watches Have Jewels?

Quartz watches are incredibly popular in the modern market and they normally have fewer parts than other types of watch. This makes it easy to believe that there is no need to use jewels to lessen friction but this isn’t the case all of the time; there are actually some quartz watches that have jewels.

Quartz watches are powered using a battery and a quartz crystal. However, inside the workings of the watch, there are still gears that have to be hand programmed. Here is where a lot of friction can occur and where jewels come in handy once again.

By using jewels in quartz watches, the durability of the internal parts is vastly improved. What’s more, it ensures that everything inside the watch runs smoothly. But you will normally find that quartz watches don’t have quite as many crystals with many using around 11.

17 Jewels Watch Video

Conclusion

Jewels are normally thought of as decorative pieces within jewelry. But when it comes to wristwear, they play an important role in how your watch functions. Without jewels, the internal metal parts would rub against one another causing friction. In most mechanical watches, there will be between 17 and 21 jewels but more complex timepieces may require significantly more.