Wondering Why?

Why do watches have jewels

Why do watches have jewels

Nicolas Fatio de Duillier together with Jacob and Pierre (or Peter according to other sources) Debaufre were said to be the ones responsible for the development of using jewels on watches and received a patent in 1705. However, it was not until the 19th century that the knowledge in utilizing jewels as wheel bearings in watches became popular which is continuously practiced even at present times.

The first jewel used as watch bearings was made out of pure ruby. It comprises of a ring, also known as the hole”, together with a sink intended for oil. Since then, other gemstones were put into use that includes garnet (which was too soft) and quartz. High-end watches uses sapphire, diamonds in addition to rubies. During 20th century, the development of synthetic gems was invented which made the value of jewels a lot cheaper. And in modern watches, the use of synthetic jewels (made out of corundum) became widely accepted.

Jewels were primarily used in watches to reduce the friction created by its gears. It is because of the durability, glossy exterior, and lower frictional coefficient” that made the jewels more functional as a wheel bearing compared to metals. When the friction in the watch’s gears is reduced, the reliability of the watch in telling time becomes more accurate.

Jewels are also known to extend the life of the bearings inside the watch, thus also affecting the overall stability of the watch. Watches without jeweled bearings tend to wear out quickly and becomes inaccurate in giving time, or eventually stop running. With this, jewels are put on watches to help prolong its life.

Currently, many people believed that the number of jewels put into watches define its value; the more jewels a watch has, the more accurate and durable the watch is. Because of this popular assumption, watch manufacturers took advantage of the knowledge and eventually use non-functional jewels just to raise the watch’s market value.


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