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.

An Overview of Basic Pocket Watch Case Designs

 

Pocket Watches pic

Pocket Watches
Image: heritagepocketwatch.com

Craig Duling serves as chairman of the board at Heritage Management Services in Northern California. Outside of his business pursuits, Craig Duling maintains a passion for pocket watches, which he shares through his website HeritagePocketWatch.com. On this website, he provides extensive information about the history and construction of watches, including their cases.

Pocket watches are designed to be hunter-cased or open-faced. A hunter-cased watch has a metal housing around the moving elements and an additional metal cover over the dial. A hunter case has a metal latch that clips into the lip of the front cover to protect the face of the watch. These watches have a stem that users push to release the latch. With open-faced watches, the metal cover goes only around the moving parts and the face remains unobstructed.

Another element of the case is the back attachment style. Individuals need to be able to remove the back to reveal the working parts. Four main styles exist. The first is a screw style, which uses threads to attach the backing. Other watches may have a back that snaps on with a notch for inserting an opening tool. The third style adds a hinge to the snapped back, and the fourth style employs a single-piece body that has no seams. To remove the back, individuals must firmly take off the front bezel and then a swing-out mechanism gives access to the moving parts.

Pocket Watch Jewel Settings

 

Craig Duling

Craig Duling, an antiquarian horologist, is a former engineer that currently serves as the CEO of Heritage Management Services. Craig Duling also owns and operates Heritagepocketwatch.com, where he applied his expertise in the evaluation of antique timepieces.

When evaluating pocket watches, it is important to assess the quality of the movement as well as the condition of the dial and case. Jewels are an important watch component that help to reduce friction at movement pressure points and ensure the watch operates correctly over a long period of time.

Pocket watch jewels come in several forms, including round shaped hole and cap jewels, angled pallet jewels, and pin style impulse jewels. Jewels can be set with friction, where they are pressed into a tight hole that keeps them secured. Watches with friction set jewels are typically less expensive and lower quality. Another method to set jewels includes the use of small screws which attach to the movement plate. Screw set jewels can be flush with the plate or a raised style where the setting’s rim is slightly elevated. Watches with screw set jewels are often higher quality pieces.

Who Invented the Pocket Watch?

 

 Pocket Watch pic

Pocket Watch
Image: historyofwatch.com

Craig Duling serves as CEO of the San Francisco company Heritage Management Services, Inc., and devotes time to philanthropic endeavors. In addition, Craig Duling has studied and collected antique pocket watches for four decades. He shares his love of pocket watches and their history on his website HeritagePocketWatch.com, where readers will find advice on collecting and appraising watches, as well as articles on their history.

With Smithsonian magazine calling the pocket watch the “first wearable tech game changer” in the world, the importance of the pocket watch to human civilization is readily apparent. The precise origins of the pocket watch may be lost in history, although medieval people were familiar with mechanical clockworks. Renaissance-era portraits show men holding watches of various types suspended from ribbons or chains, in an era where simple mainspring technology flourished.

Some authorities believe the pocket watch was invented by Italian makers in the 15th century. Many others point to Peter Henlein, the Nuremberg watchmaker and creator of a single-hand device early in the 16th century. In any case, both men and women were using portable watches in the 1500s. The earliest models were egg-shaped and bulky, but they were soon replaced by flatter case shapes.

King Charles II of England is said to have popularized the securing of pocket watches by chains. When he introduced the wearing of waistcoats in the late 17th century, he provided men with a fashionable way to carry their pocket watches.