21 Jewel Movement Explained

21 jewel movement watches are at the very core of the best Swiss watches, but many people have trouble understanding what they are and what their function is. However, it is much easier to understand than most people think.

Many early time keeping devices came in the form of pocket watches that were bought from a jeweller. The jeweller would assemble the customer’s choice of movement and then set it in a case.

A 21 jewel movement was – and still is - used to help keep the watch running smoothly. Tiny synthetic gem crystals are set between many of the gears, in order to reduce friction. These gems resist temperature better than metal, and hold lubricant much longer.

Jewels are industrial-grade or synthetic rubies, which are used to make a watch movement's bearings. Basically, the jewels hold the end of the axel for each major gear. If you look closely at the movement, you can actually see them; they look like tiny red doughnut shapes.

Rubies are almost as hard as diamonds, and as long as the watch is properly lubricated, these gems can reduce friction and keep your watch running perfectly for many years.

You can actually hear the gems working. The ticking noise of mechanical watches are actually made by two rubies banging into the steel teeth of the escape wheel.

You should make sure to have your watch serviced every five years, as the toughness of the rubies can erode the steel if not properly looked dafter. Whats the difference between 21 jewel movement and 25 jewel movement watches?

The number of jewels used in a watch movement is an indication of the design of the movement, not its quality. In fact, a cheap or poorly constructed 25 jewel movement can be less accurate and shorter-lived than a well crafted 21 jewel movement.

A 25 jewel movement is used by companies such as ETA as a style preference, rather than a practical one. ETA SA was set up at the end of the 18th century, and their movements quickly established themselves as being accurate and of a superior quality than most movement manufacturers.

However, the main difference in the number of jewels used is dependant on the type of watch. For example, automatic watch or self-winding watches and other complicated models may have 24 or more jewels because of the additional moving parts.

In other words, more jewels indicate a more complicated movement, which is why many watch enthusiasts are wiling to pay over the odds for them. Also, the more jewels used, the less wear there is on the watch parts.

Swiss jewel movements are extremely varied. Some basic watches only have five jewels in them, whereas more complicated watches can have over 25 jewels.

The gems used in the watches are actually worthless – with a value less than a few cents each. So, the number used is dependant on the style of movement, the number of parts in the watch, and the watchmaker’s personal preference, as opposed to cost. However, because Swiss watch-making is renowned for its high quality and innovative designs, Swiss 21 jewel movement are sought after by many collectors.

A Swiss movement is one that has been assembled in Switzerland under the supervision of a Swiss factory. It is also important that the parts of the movements that are Swiss in origin make up at least 50% of the movement's total value.

When looking for a Swiss movement, you should look for the stamp that says one of the following things: "Swiss Made," "Suisse," "Produit Suisse," "Swiss Quartz," or "Fabrique en Suisse." This is proof that you have bought a watch with a Swiss movement.

Watches with this stamped on the case have been entirely manufactured in Switzerland. However, watches with the marking only on the inside just have a Swiss movement.

Choosing the right swiss watch can be taxing at the best of times, but knowing about the various movements can help you to make the right decision. If you are in any doubt, talk to your local watch specialist.