Jewel Count as a Marker of Pocket Watch Quality

 

Pocket Watch Dial pic

Pocket Watch
Image: heritagepocketwatch.com

Craig Duling is a San Francisco Bay area executive businessman who directs Heritage Management Services, Inc. Reflecting his longstanding interest in collecting timepieces, Craig Duling has created the HeritagePocketWatch.com site, through which he offers a host of informational resources, as well as access to quality watches and accessories.

For those new to collecting vintage watches, jewel count is an ideal starting point, with those fully jeweled issues that contain at least 15 jewels to 17 jewels preferred. Often directly relating to quality, the jewels are comprised of hard minerals that ensure minimum wear and tear at collision and pivot points within the watch mechanism. Higher quality watches typically contain between 19 jewels and 23 jewels, and they are among the most sought after.

If there is no marking of the jewel count on the interior of the watch, it likely has 11 jewels or fewer and is not as collectible unless rarity or condition dictates a premium. Over time, those watches with fewer jewels tend to experience heavy wear at the plates’ pivot points because of the moving wheel’s continuous, high-pressure grinding activity. Once they are worn into ovals, it is extremely challenging to repair the timepiece into proper working condition and the value declines correspondingly.

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Properly Opening a Hinged-Back Cased Pocket Watch

 

Pocket Watch pic

Pocket Watch
Image: heritagepocketwatch.com

Craig Duling is a well-established San Francisco Bay Area executive who leads Heritage Management Services, Inc., and has a passion for the history of timepieces. An avid watch collector, Craig Duling maintains HeritagePocketWatch.com and provides enthusiasts with a wide range of informational resources.

One of the topics covered centers on the proper way of opening a pocket watch for the purpose of viewing and evaluating the movement. With four major types of backs existing, the hinged-back case pocket watch is particularly common. It is opened by turning over the watch such that the back is upward facing.

The case is then opened using a small tool with a specialized end that is similar to the tip of a butter knife. The instrument fits precisely and is used to pry the lid gently open. Alternatively, a small knife blade can be employed, with extreme caution exercised to avoid the types of scratches that can devalue watches.