What Does the Number of Jewels in a Watch Mean?

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Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the jewels in your watch serve a function, believe it or not. These jewels, which are made out of synthetic ruby or synthetic sapphire, are used as the bearings for the wheel trains and in high wear parts such as the escape lever and impulse jewel. Jewels are used because of the fact that they are smooth and don’t allow for a lot of friction, making the process of moving the gears much smoother. The number of jewels that a watch contains also makes a difference. To learn more, keep reading.

What Does 17 Jewels Mean in a Watch?

For the most part, all watches are composed of 17 jewels. If a watch contains all 17 jewels, it is referred to as a fully jeweled watch. This refers to the fact that the watch uses jewel bearings in its mechanical movements. Several decades ago, however, watches only consisted of five to seven jewels. The jewel count also refers to the number of pivots with these jewels in them. Interestingly enough, each of these jewels serves a different purpose.

One impulse jewel for example, can be found in the assembly around where the escapement level is. Two other jewels make up the staff pivot, which are used as pivot bearings on staff pivot. There are also two jewels each in the center wheel, escape lever pallet, escape lever, fourth wheel, third wheel, and escape wheel.

What Does 21 Jewels Mean in a Watch?

An alternative to a 17-jewel watch is a 21-jewel watch. This is essentially the same thing, except that of 17 jewels, the watch relies on 21 jewels to run. These extra jewels are also added to reduce positional errors and for the most part, the extra jewels are found in more high-quality watches.

What Does 25 Jewels Mean in a Watch?

Oftentimes, watchmakers will add in a few extra stones to serve as a mainspring barrel and self-winding wheels. Therefore, you will only find 25 jewels in self-winding watches. To put it simply, the more jewels a watch has, the more functions it can perform.

Are More Jewels in a Watch Better?

As mentioned earlier, the jewels in most watches these days are not real but in fact synthetic versions of the original. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the “jewels” themselves aren’t worth much to begin with. Oftentimes, you will find watch retailers who will try to sell their clients on a watch by boasting about the number of jewels it has. However, anyone who knows anything about these jewels knows that the more jewels in a watch doesn’t necessarily make it better. Again, the amount of jewels on a watch simply means the watch has more complications such as a perpetual calendar watch, a chronograph, or a tourbillon watch. There are more components to the watch, so it requires more jewels for it to function.

Different Types of Jewels

When making a watch, several different types of jewels will go into it. Hole jewels for example, are a type of jewel with a hole drilled into it so that it can be mounted on the wheel’s axle. You can tell these apart from others because it has either a rounded top or a flat bottom. Combined with a cap jewel, these two combine to create a set called a pivot bearing. Together, they are able to let the axle spin.

Pallet jewels are rectangular in shape and used at the end of each arm on the pallet fork. Lastly, roller jewels are used as a connection point between the escape wheel and the pallets. It can be located inside the pallet fork.

Can You Find Jewels in Quartz Watches?

While it’s true that quartz watches contain moving parts in the same way that mechanical watches do, they do not contain watch jewels. There are a few exceptions, and these watches still only contain up to two types of jewels – hole and cap jewels.

Typically, you can find hole jewels in quartz watches because they are ideal for moving parts. High-end quartz watches on the other hand, have the conjunction of hole jewels and cap jewels to create the frictionless movement with an extra shock resistance.


If you own a watch and are thinking of tearing it apart to look for the jewels that could fund your next vacation – don’t bother. As we’ve discovered, the jewels used in the watches made today are not actually made out of real rubies and sapphires, and not worth taking apart your watch or trying to pawn it off. If you’re curious to know how many jewels your watch has, you can always take it to a watchmaker for some insight.