Why Do Watches Have Jewels & What Are They Made Of

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Are you wondering why do watches have jewels? Were you looking to buy a watch and found out that it has some jewels but you do not know why they are there and want to know more about them?

The number of jewels a watch has is one thing that every watch manufacturer likes to market heavily. In fact, to show the inner jewels at work, some manufacturers even give you a skeleton dial or see-through case back. But what exactly are these jewels, why do watches have them, when were they first used, what do jewels do, do more jewels in a watch make the watch better, do all mechanical and quartz watches have jewels, etc. Are you wondering about these questions too?

If yes, then rest assured, you are reading the right article. In this article, I have tried to answer all of the above questions so that you can choose the right watch for you. So, keep reading!

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When Did The Jewels Get Into Watches?

Before we dive deep into the jewels let us first look at the history of their usage and when they were first used.

If you are thinking that using a jewel in a watch might be a very new concept then let me tell you that you can’t be more WRONG! It is not a new concept and it even dates way back than the beginning of almost every watch manufacturer you know in this world right now.

That being said, can you make a guess?

The first jewel bearing to be used in a watch was introduced way back in 1704. Yes, I know your guess was nowhere close to this!

It was introduced by Nicolas Fatio de Duillier. Can you guess who he was? Did you guess a watchmaker?

No, he was not a watchmaker. Ironically, he was a mathematician that came up with the idea of using a jewel inside a watch. He even got an English Patent for 14 years for the same idea.

What Are Jewels In A Watch Made Of?

Now that we know who came up with the idea of using jewels in a watch and when it happened, let’s now look at what exactly these jewels are made up of?

Originally, the jewels that were used in the watches were made up of natural gemstones, like ruby, sapphire, and even diamonds.

But these natural jewels are extremely rare and cost a fortune to get your hands on one. Therefore jewels that are used in watches today are not natural but are synthetic(man-made). They are way cheaper than the natural gemstones and are also easily available, as a result, you will find them in many watches these days, even some of the cheaper ones.

These days, jewels are mainly made up of rubies. You can definitely spot them from the skeleton window of the watch or the watch’s see-through case back. They are colorful and will stand apart from the rest of the watch parts. But why are they colorful? They are colorful because of the impurities present in them. I know! Those impurities look beautiful, right?

Why Do Watches Have Jewels And What Exactly They Do In A Watch?

Why Do Watches Have Jewels

So why do watches have jewels? What exactly do jewels do in a watch?

The simple answer to these questions is: Jewels help in increasing the accuracy and longevity of the watch.

Now you must be wondering how do they do it, right? Let us have a look.

Like any other machinery, watches also have different parts and components that keep them running. These parts are generally made up of metal and when metal parts rub against each other they generally produce friction. This friction makes the watch lose time quickly and increases the wear and tear of the parts. To reduce this friction, lubricants are used but lubrication oil has a limited life therefore you need to get your watch serviced more often. And if you do not get it serviced frequently then the parts will get worn quickly and also your watch will start losing time.

Now, we as normal customers may not think about it as much but for a watch manufacturer, it is a matter of pride and expertise. Every watch manufacturer in the world strives to make its watches even more precise and accurate. So how does one make its watch more accurate and also last long?

This question led to the invention of jewel bearings and pivots. They help in reducing the friction between fast-moving metal parts of the watch which results in a smoother and long-lasting operation of the watch. Jewels like diamond, sapphire, and ruby are some of the hardest known substances that are known to humankind.

As a result, they do not get worn easily and last way longer as compared to their metal counterparts. Their hard and smooth surface produces very little friction and thereby helping in the smoother functioning of the watch. This further helps the watch to keep the time accurately. Jewels also do not require frequent services and can function much longer than their metal counterparts. As a result, watches with jewels can run for decades without needing any service.

Why Do Watches With Jewels Are Costlier?

While purchasing a watch you will generally find watches with jewels a little costlier. So why exactly are they costly?

As discussed earlier, jewels like ruby, sapphire, and diamond are some of the hardest substances known to mankind. Therefore, making bearing and pivots out of these substances requires special machinery, time, and effort. This, needless to say, is a costly affair. Therefore watches that have jewels are generally costlier as compared to watches that do not have jewels. As a result, more the number of jewels present in the watch the more its price will be.

But does it mean the more jewels a watch has the better it will be? Keep reading to know the answer!

Are More Jewels In A Watch Better?

If jewels make the watch more accurate and make it last longer then it should mean that the more the number of jewels in a watch the better it will be. This is true to some extent but not always. Yes, jewels help make a watch more accurate and increase its longevity but inserting jewels where they are not required will neither affect its longevity nor its accuracy. It will just increase the cost of the watch and nothing else. So if you see a normal watch with a high number of jewels then it does not mean that the watch is of higher quality.

The most important part or you can say the heart of the watch is its movement. Jewels are just additional parts that smoothen the overall working of a watch movement. So, if the watch movement is not accurate and is not of good quality then it does not matter how many jewels it consists of, it will lose time and will stop working.

How Many Jewels A Good Watch Require?

Now that we have figured out that more jewels in a watch do not mean that it is better. So the next question that must be arising in your mind is how many jewels should be there in a good watch? Or how do we know that the manufacturer has not inserted the jewels just for the namesake and to increase the overall price of the watch?

A good basic mechanical watch with a hand-wind movement generally requires approximately 17 jewels. And a basic mechanical watch with automatic movement generally requires approximately 24-28 jewels. However, the more the number of functionalities and complexities added to a watch the more the number of jewels it will require. For example, an automatic watch with a chronograph and date feature will require additional parts to be added to the watch. And to make these parts run smoother will obviously require more number of jewels.

So now you know about the standard number jewels that are present in a basic automatic and hand-wind movement watch. But what about the watches with quartz movement? Do quartz watches have jewels too? Or they do not require jewels? Do not worry and keep reading!

Do Quartz Watches Have Jewels?

Jewels in quartz watches are a rarity but yes jewels are used in quartz watches too. Quartz watches do not have as many parts as compared to mechanical watches and their movement is not as complex as a mechanical movement. They are generally more accurate and smoother in functioning than mechanical watches. However, that being said, some watch manufacturers do use jewels in quartz watches too to take their smoothness and accuracy to a whole new level. And you will find jewels in only high-end quartz watches.


Are The Jewels In Watches Worth Anything?

Yes, jewels cost more than the normal metal watch parts and make the overall cost of the watch a little higher.

What Are The Purple Things In Watches?

The purple things in watches are jewels.

Why Do Watches Have Purple Stones?

The purple stones in watches are jewels and these are used to make a watch more accurate and increase its longevity.

What Do Crystals Do In A Watch?

Crystals help in making the watch smoother and accurate. They also increase the overall life of the watch.

Why Are Jewels Pink?

Pink jewels are rubies. They are pink in color because of the impurities that are present in them.

Tom Nielson

Tom's love for watches started when his grandfather gifted him his Rolex watch when he turned 18! Being a teenager it was a big deal for him. Later when he got his first job he bought Fossil Palm Pilot back in 2003 which was a smartwatch. Since then smartwatches have come a long way and so is Tom's love for them. His experience with watches inspired him to start Wearholic and share his knowledge of wearables including watches, smartwatches, smart glasses, & smart clothing.

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