What Are Watch Jewels?

Many famous watch brands will point out that their watch movements are made with a number of “jewels,” anywhere from 17 to 27 (or even more). That sounds impressive, but have you ever wondered why they are there in the first place? Any why you can’t usually see them like you can gemstones that decorate the exterior of the watch?

The short answer is that they are a functional part of the watch movement, rather than a decoration. To delve into a bit more detail, read the following article. To find the best place for watch repair in San Diego, look no further than Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers.

Where Are All These Jewels?

As mentioned before, these jewels aren’t a decoration, so they can’t be seen on the dial of the watch. They are embedded into the mechanism itself. Some high-end watches have a transparent dial or case back so that the mechanism can be observed. In these kinds of watches, the movement’s jewels can be seen. In most cases, the bearings are made of gemstones, but it is quite common that other parts of the watch mechanism are crafted from gems as well.

Why Are They There?

In any mechanism, metal parts interact with each other to create friction. Depending on the material, over time this friction causes wear and eventually, breakage. In order to prevent this from happening, or at least to prolong the durability of the parts, watchmakers needed to design the meeting points of these parts out of something harder than the metal they are made of. Since certain gemstones are very hard, they were selected for the task. Their relative hardness also means that they are more resistant to heat and other external factors, adding to the accuracy of the watches themselves.

Close-up of inner watch jewels.
Inner movement, gears, and jewels of fine watch.

Which Gems Are Used?

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness indicates the relative hardness of various minerals/gemstones. Only gemstones with the hardness of 9+ on the scale are acceptable for use in watch mechanisms since they are harder and more durable than the metal parts. The gemstones that fit that bill are diamond and corundum (ruby and sapphire). Initially, in the early 18th century, natural gemstones were used. Nowadays, though, synthetic gemstones are commonly used, chiefly synthetic sapphire or rubies, and they are mass-produced specifically for the watch industry.

Why Does the Number of Jewels Vary?

Different types of watches require a different number of jewels. Typically, the simplest jeweled watch requires 17 jewels. As more complicated functions and parts are added, more jewels are needed, up to 27. In the early days, it was relatively complicated to shape the gemstones and fit them into the small and intricate watch mechanisms, so as few jewels as necessary were used to prolong the life of the movement.

And as the watches got more complicated, they required more gemstones to cushion the additional moving parts. This gave rise to the commonly held belief that more jewels meant a better watch. In response, some watch companies started adding jewels where no jewels were needed, just to increase the jewel count, and watch movements set with as many as 100 jewels were created.

Apart from high-end watches, many other sensitive measuring devices require jeweled bearings, as their resistance to heat, corrosion, and low friction is invaluable for the accuracy of measurement. Such devices include galvanometers, compasses, and gyroscopes.

San Diego Watch Repair

In our modern society, a jeweled watch can be a status symbol rather than a necessary tool. The right watch can speak louder than words about the style and status of the wearer. And even though jeweled watches are much more durable, they aren’t impervious to breakdowns. Fine automatic watches should be serviced every 3 to 5 years to avoid unnecessary wear and loss of accuracy.

If you are looking for watch repair in the San Diego area, look no further than Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers. The Master Watchmaker of Leo Hamel’s repair shop has over 35 years of experience repairing fine watches. You can be sure that your bejeweled timepiece is in safe hands.

Top 10 Luxury Watch Brands

The art of watchmaking is one that dates back centuries, a tangible representation of mankind’s persistent fascination with time. Horologists of the past were praised for their skill and ingenuity. They were awarded at world fairs and exhibitions for their endless innovations. Several pioneers of watchmaking also founded some of the most famous luxury watch brands. Many of which you might recognize. These watch brands are known for manufacturing timepieces of superior quality, featuring several impressive complications to aid with any task.

If you’re in the market for a new high-end watch, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the many options. Each watch brand is known for something different. Whether you prefer Vacheron Constantin or TAG Heuer – find the best watch for your taste and budget without the headache. We’ve compiled a list of the top luxury watch brands in the world. Read more to discover their unique histories and learn about their contributions to the science of timekeeping.

Patek Philippe

Rose gold Patek Philippe with black dial and black leather strap.

Patek Philippe was founded in 1851 as a partnership between two watchmakers, Antoni Patek and Adrien Philippe. Philippe was known for inventing a keyless winding mechanism, an early prototype of what we recognize as a winding stem. Patek Philippe has crafted timepieces of the highest quality, blending traditional style with sophisticated gears and gadgetry. One example of the brand’s commitment to quality craftsmanship is the Sky Moon Tourbillon, which features several watch complications. These include a perpetual calendar, retrograde chart, sky chart, moon phases, and an enchanting night sky on the case back.

Such elaborately detailed designs have come to define Patek Philippe, elevating the brand to icon status. Patek Phillipe watches are known to turn record profits at auction houses. In fact, the brand’s Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 model is the most expensive watch ever sold at auction – a record $31.19 million. Patek Philippe is considered the finest watch brand in the world, and with their history, it’s easy to see why.

Audemars Piguet

Stainless steel Audemars Piguet with black textured dial on mans wrist.

Lifelong friends Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet got their start in 1875, originally creating precise watch movements for upscale brands like Tiffany & Co. Before long, the duo began designing their own complete timepieces for sale. Considered a champion of the industry, Audemars Piguet designed the world’s first minute repeater wristwatch in 1882. They also produced the first steel luxury sports watch, known as the Royal Oak.

These are just two examples of how the brand has revolutionized watchmaking, but their list of accolades goes on and on. Today, the Royal Oak is still considered one of Audemars Piguet’s most notable watch models, setting the standard for luxury sports watches. Prior to the Royal Oaks’ unveiling in 1972, sports watches were less than luxurious, designed strictly with utility in mind. And would you believe, this iconic watch model was designed in just 24 hours by watch stylist Gérald Genta. Audemars Piguet is so legendary, Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari still use their movements in many of their watch models today.

Vacheron Constantin

Two yellow gold Vacheron Constantin watches with white dials and leather straps laying flat on a table.

Vacheron Constantin is one of the oldest Swiss luxury watch brands in the world, remaining in continuous operation since its founding in 1755. It’s not just their expansive history that sets them apart from other Swiss watchmakers. Their timepieces are known for being remarkably elaborate, featuring details like engraving, enameling, guilloche, and gem-setting. A Vacheron Constantin watch is truly a work of art, both inside and out. They’ve contributed immensely to the advancement of horological science, achieving many firsts over the centuries.

Vacheron Constantin set a record in 2015, creating the most complicated mechanical watch in the world. The Reference 57260 boasts an impressive 57 complications. Their record of designing timepieces with breathtaking beauty and exceptional accuracy falls perfectly in line with their motto – “Do better if possible and that is always possible.” Famous Vacheron Constantin wearers have included Harry S. Truman, Napoleon Bonaparte, and King Farouk of Egypt, to name a few.

Rolex

Yellow gold Rolex Day-Date with white Roman numeral dial and Jubilee bracelet.

Rolex is arguably the most recognized luxury watch brand in the world and is certainly the most coveted. Founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf, it didn’t take long for Rolex to become one of the most revered watch manufacturers. Their long list of innovations includes the first waterproof wristwatch (Rolex Oyster), the first watch with an automatically changing date (Rolex Datejust), and the first with and automatically changing day and date (Rolex Day-Date). These exceptional timepieces are the epitome of quality watchmaking, carefully crafted using superior methods and materials.

Rolex watches are as stylish as they are useful, the ideal marriage of form and function for watch enthusiasts and adventurers alike. Made to withstand the perils of deep-sea diving, mountain climbing, and even arctic exploration, a Rolex watch is as much a tool as it is an accessory. In fact, the first wristwatch to ever reach the peak of Mount Everest was an early prototype of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer. With such a longstanding legacy, it’s now wonder Rolex has had its fair share of famous fans including Dwight Eisenhower, James Cameron, Eric Clapton, and many more.

Omega

Originally founded in 1848 as the La Generate Watch Co., OMEGA trails closely behind Rolex as one of the most highly recognized Swiss watch brands in history. OMEGA watches are highly regarded as some of the most precise and efficient in the industry. They’ve played a significant role in history, and in cinema.

OMEGA was named the official watch of Britain’s Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and the United States Army in 1918. In 1932, they became the official timekeepers of the Olympic games, a partnership that remains to this day. OMEGA even had its watches flight qualified for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, and in 1969, OMEGA made history by becoming the first watch to ever be worn on the moon.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore his OMEGA Speedmaster as he explored the moon’s surface, a fact which would help elevate the brand to a whole new level of success and prestige. In addition to the long list of achievements, OMEGA is probably best known for adorning the wrist of everyone’s favorite secret agent, James Bond. 

Cartier

Yellow gold Cartier with white Roman numeral dial and brown leather strap.

In 1904, Louis Cartier created his first wristwatch, the Cartier Santos. Inspired by his friend, Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont, Cartier designed what would later be recognized as the first pilot’s watch. This was truly cutting-edge, as pilots were previously relying on pocket watches which were cumbersome and dangerous to fidget with while manning an aircraft. This was just an early taste of Cartier’s extraordinary watchmaking history. Other noteworthy achievements include the Cartier Tank and the Ballon Bleu de Cartier. Both of which were best-sellers for the illustrious jeweler and watchmaker.

In fact, the Ballon Bleu was the first watch model to include movements designed by Cartier. Prior to this, Cartier purchased its movements from the best of the best – Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Rolex, among others. While many luxury watch brands may stand out on the wrist, a Cartier watch looks a bit more refined. Most of their watch models feature roman numeral hour makers, giving them an esteemed look that also acknowledges the brand’s Parisian roots. A quick look at a Cartier watch and it’s easy to see why the brand has such celebrity appeal. Not only are they splendid and elegant, but they’re also a hallmark of Cartier’s grand cultural legacy.

Jaeger-LeCoultre

Yellow gold Jaeger-LeCoultre with white dial and black leather strap.

Established in 1833 by Antoine LeCoultre, a self-taught watchmaker and inventor, Jaeger-LeCoultre is an acclaimed Swiss watch manufacturer. The brand is one of the single greatest contributors to the advancement of watch technology.

They’ve produced more than 1,000 calibers and hold over 400 patents for hundreds of various inventions. One such invention is the Calibre 101, the world’s smallest watch movement, developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1925.

Prior to his invention, women’s watches were too small to function precisely. The Calibre 101 led to the design of the first luxury watch for women that was stylish and reliable, the Duoplan.

Their expertise is so highly regarded, they’ve even supplied movements to watchmakers like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. Jaeger-LeCoultre has long dedicated themselves to the art of watchmaking, a fact which is evident from their highly sophisticated, elegant timepieces.

IWC Schaffhausen

Stainless steel IWC with a black dial, silver markers, and brown leather strap.

The International Watch Company was founded by an American watchmaker, Florentine Ariosto Jones, in 1868. Jones brought his skills and expertise to Switzerland – the horology capital of the world – and established his headquarters in Schaffhausen. IWC is best known for their dive and pilot watches, precisely engineered in accordance with the highest industry standards. In 1936, as the field of aviation was rapidly expanding, IWC Schaffhausen released their first pilot’s watch, and early mockup of the famed Big Pilot’s watch.

The brand was even commissioned by the British Royal Air Force to develop a service watch for its pilots, the IWC Mark 11. IWC has a unique system of record keeping that they established in 1885. They keep a meticulous catalog of every watch they’ve ever made dating all the way back to 1868. As if that weren’t impressive enough – IWC Schaffhausen has recently dedicated itself to increasing their production standards as a means of addressing growing environmental concerns.

TAG Heuer

Titanium TAG Heuer Formula 1 with a black dial and bezel.

Originally established as Heuer Watchmaking Inc. in 1860 by Edouard Heuer, TAG Heuer has made a name for itself as an innovator in sports timing, specifically in race car driving. In 1916, the watchmaker launched the Mikrograph, a mechanical stopwatch that could measure 1/100th of a second. It was the first of its kind and transformed the business of sports timekeeping. Today, the brand is still heavily associated with the auto racing industry.

Besides its long list of partnerships with racing organizations, some of TAG Heuer’s most well-known watch models are named after famous racing events like the Formula One, Carrera, and Monaco collections. Actor Steve McQueen famously wore a blue TAG Heuer Monaco in the 1971 film Le Mans, cementing the watch’s iconic status. Besides manufacturing wristwatches, TAG Heuer also produces timepieces that can be mounted to the dashboards of automobiles, boats, and aircraft.

Panerai

Stainless steel Panerai Luminor with a black rubber strap.

Panerai is the only watch brand on this list that is based out of Italy rather than Switzerland. Giovanni Panerai founded his company in Florence, Italy in 1860. Shortly after his founding, Panerai began supplying the Royal Italian Navy with watches and other precision dive instruments. The watchmaker had patented a luminous powder called radiomir which could be used to illuminate a watch dial. They paired this radiomir paint with large, Arabic numerals to ensure ideal visibility underwater.

This simple, yet bold design has become a signature style for Panerai. Besides being known for their ultra-sophisticated dive watches, Panerai has made a name for itself as a luxury watchmaker. In the past two decades, the brand has released reimagined versions of famous models like the Luminor and the Mare Nostrom. In 2001, Panerai re-opened its original boutique located in Florence’s historic Piazza San Giovanni. The brand has exclusive, special edition models that are only available for sale at this flagship location, a definite stop for watch enthusiasts traveling to Florence.

Luxury Watches in San Diego

Wondering where you can find fine watches in San Diego? Stop wasting time on the web and come to Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers instead! We offer an extraordinary selection of new and pre-owned luxury watches, from these renowned watch brands, and more. A finely crafted timepiece is well worth the price, a treasure to cherish for a lifetime and then some. What’re you waiting for? Visit Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers today, and discover the luxury watch that’s been calling your name!

What’s the Difference Between Quartz & Mechanical Movements?

The watch movement or the caliber is a mechanism that makes every watch tick. It is an engine that powers a watch and all of its functions. The mechanism moves the hands and powers any additional features such as annual calendars, chronographs or dual time zone displays. Powering all the timekeeping tasks, the movement is the most important component in any watch. There are many different movements that power a watch, but they all fall into two categories: mechanical and quartz movements.

How Can You Tell Which Movement is Which?

A simple way to tell a mechanical movement from a quartz movement is the way the second hand moves. The second hand on a quartz watch moves in ticks, while with mechanical movements, the hand moves smoothly.

Quartz movements are extremely accurate and need little regular maintenance apart from replacing batteries. While some lower-end quartz watches may run for decades without maintenance, a fine Swiss quartz watch should be serviced every 7 to 10 years. The batteries should be changed every 2 years to prevent damage.

Quartz watches tend to cost less as they have fewer moving parts and are cheaper to manufacture. Watch aficionados aren’t as attracted to them as they lack the craftsmanship and fine engineering of their mechanical counterparts. However, when made by high-end Swiss watch manufacturers, quartz movements are a perfectly acceptable solution.

Mechanical movements are preferred by many watch enthusiasts because they incorporate a high level of craftsmanship and quality. They are skillfully made by watchmakers and contain several tiny compartments that work together to power the mechanism. Mechanical movements use energy from a wound spring. This spring stores the energy and uses it to power a series of springs and gears. While the design of mechanical watches has remained unchanged for centuries, the latest technology allows for more precise engineering and finer details.

The most popular mechanical watches are those that contain perpetual-wind movements. They’re more popular because as long as you wear them regularly, you don’t have to wind them every day to make sure they are accurate. Perpetual-wind watches gather energy through the motions of your wrist. A metal weight spins with each move of your wrist, harnessing that energy to continually wind the mainspring. A special mechanism prevents it from over winding, keeping optimum tension for impeccable timekeeping performance.

Men's Rolex Explorer II in stainless steel with a white dial.
Men's Patek Phillipe in stainless steel with a white dial and a grey leather strap.
Men's Panerai Luminor in stainless steel with a black dial and brown leather strap.

Pros & Cons

Quartz watches are extremely accurate, but what also makes them popular among buyers is their low price and durability. These watches can also be equipped with additional technological features such as GPS tracking or illumination. They are also slightly more accurate than mechanical watches, which may be accurate to within a few seconds a day.

On the other hand, mechanical watches boast a much more impressive mechanism that watch-lovers love to observe. Many mechanical watches will have a clear crystal window on the back of the case to allow the owner to see the mechanism at work. Mechanical watches can last for generations as they have a significantly longer life span than their quartz counterparts have, and thus can become cherished family heirlooms.

Mechanical watches require regular maintenance and need to be cleaned by a professional every 3 to 5 years to avoid excessive wear on the parts of the movement. However, this investment will ensure that your mechanical watch lasts for many more years to come.

Watch Servicing

In conclusion, if you are looking for a cheap, accurate watch with little to no need for maintenance, you should go with quartz watches. But if you want an impressive mechanism that represents a form of art, and you are looking for a watch that will last you a lifetime, a perpetual-wind mechanical watch is an unrivaled choice.

If you own a mechanical watch, make sure to have it serviced every 3 to 5 years so that it continues to perform as well as the day it was acquired. If you need your watch professionally cleaned or serviced, call us at 619-299-1500 to find out what our in-house watch department can do for you. Our watchmaker is certified and was Rolex factory trained.

A complete watch service at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers consists of disassembling the watch movement, cleaning out old lubricant, re-lubricating all friction points, re-assembling the movement, and adjusting the timing to factory specifications. Included is a one-year warranty on timekeeping and a 90-day warranty on parts.

The exterior of the watch is then fully refinished; removing all scratches and restoring the factory finish to the case and bracelet, making your watch look new again. You’ll be surprised at what a difference that makes!

Rolesor – The Two-Toned Rolex

Are you looking for a watch that can withstand any type of environment, performs exceptionally well, and offers a classic, sophisticated look? If so, the Rolex Submariner could be the next watch to add to your collection. A legendary diver’s watch, the Rolex Submariner perfectly combines all of these desirable features with its aesthetic appeal and robust, functional design. Launched in 1953, the Rolex Submariner was an instant hit due to its unprecedented underwater performance and technologically advanced perpetual movement. Today, one of the more sought-after models is the Rolex Submariner Rolesor.

What is a Rolesor?

Rolesor means “two-tone,” simply put, there is a meeting of two metals on a single watch. The Rolex Submariner Rolesor juxtaposes stainless steel and yellow gold. The unification of these contrasting color creates a beautiful radiance and balanced harmony.

Submariner Features

Considered the archetype of the dive watches, the Rolex Submariner Rolesor features many innovative qualities. Equally at home underwater, at a casual outing, or a formal event, the Submariner sets new standards for style, comfort, and durability.

One of the key functionalities of this two-tone Rolex Submariner is the rotatable bezel. Manufactured by Rolex, the corrosion-resistant ceramic bezel is engraved with 60-minute graduations to allow divers to accurately monitor time and decompression stops. The bezel is also carefully designed with maximum performance in mind – the knurled edge offers an excellent grip underwater and on land.

Men's Rolex Submariner in stainless steel and yellow gold with a black dial, white markers, and black ceramic bezel.

Oyster Case & Bracelet

The Oyster case itself is one of Rolex’s renowned innovations. The Submariner’s Oyster case is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 1,000 feet and provides ultimate protection for the watch’s cutting-edge perpetual movement from water, dust, pressure, and shocks. Named after the sea creature, the case ensures watertight security like an actual oyster.

The crystal is made of synthetic sapphire, which is nearly scratchproof. Along with the oyster case, the Rolex Submariner Rolesor also features an Oyster bracelet. The bracelet is outfitted with an Oysterlock clasp. The clasp prevents accidental opening and utilizes a Glidelock feature, which allows adjustments of the bracelet size without any tools.

Triplock Winding Crown

Developed by Rolex, the Triplock winding crown is a triple waterproof system designed specifically for diving watches. The system is made of ten different elements and has four positions. When in the first position, the winding crown screws down into the Oyster case as tightly as a submarine’s hatch. The second position allows for manual winding of the watch, the third position changes the date, and the fourth position sets the time.

Luminescence

Another captivating feature of the Rolex Submariner Rolesor is the luminescence. The dial markers and hands are coated with Chromalight which allows for visibility in the darkest of environments. The luminosity will glow uniformly for up to eight hours. Whether you’re swimming in the depths of the sea or casually strolling the streets at night, the easy legibility of the dial makes the Submariner an excellent addition for any occasion.

Black or Blue Rolex Submariner

While the Submariner can be purchased in numerous metals and colors, the two-tone Rolex Submariner is only offered in a combination of 904L steel and 18k yellow gold. Adding to its attraction, the Rolesor timepiece can be adorned with a black dial and bezel or a blue dial and bezel. Which color combination is your favorite?

View our selection of expertly reconditioned, pre-owned Rolex Submariner wristwatches online or visit our jewelry and watch store on San Diego Avenue to find your next timeless treasure. If you need your Rolex Submariner fixed or refurbished to look like new again, click here to see our article on Rolex-factory trained watchmakers that we have to help you with your Rolex repairs in San Diego.

How Do Mechanical Watches Differ From Quartz?

Mechanical watches are wonders of tradition, meticulousness, and craftsmanship. That’s what makes them loved, prized, and coveted. Luxury watch brands, such as Rolex, often grow in value as time goes by. But this is only if you take good care of them. There are a few things that you should be careful about after buying your Rolex in San Diego stores, and we’re listing them here. Feel free to visit us in store to get more first-hand information about the care and maintenance that premium-quality watches require.

Adjusting the Day & Date

In general, adjusting the day and date shouldn’t be done when the watch reads between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. This time window varies from one manufacturer to another, but the point is that you shouldn’t do this a few hours before or after midnight. Even though the date and date functions do the changeover at midnight, the gears that perform this engage earlier. If you don’t follow your instruction manual when it comes to changing the day and date, these indicators could get misaligned, and some components might get broken.

Screwing Down the Crown

Some professional watches, like diving models, have a crown that must be screwed down. This gives the watch added waterproof capacity. The crown should screw between 1.5 and 3 full turns to only finger-tightness. However, owner sometimes cross-thread the crown in this process or screw it back too tightly. Cross-threading could cause permanent damage, and forcing the crown back could make it almost impossible to unscrew. If you ever feel resistance while doing this, stop, carefully unscrew the crown, and start again.

Men's Rolex Datejust in stainless steel with a black dial.
Men's Rolex Submariner in yellow gold with a white dial and bezel.

Underwater Functions

Chronographs are generally water-resistant, to varying degrees. While there are some chronographs that are fully operational even while submerged, you want to check this before you do it. You can refer to the manual or ask the seller/manufacturer. If you are not sure whether you can use the chronograph underwater, better not to risk it. When the pushers are pushed into the case, water may enter, depending on the watch’s structure. Needless to say, this turns into major water damage very quickly.

Magnets

Don’t rest your hand with the watch on large stereo speakers, clock radios, an iPhone, and iPad or Kindle cover, etc. The magnetic fields inside these appliances and objects can magnetize the watch, causing it to run ahead or late. You can check this by placing your watch under a compass and moving it slowly. If the compass needle reacts and moves likewise, you can be sure the watch was magnetized.

Buy, Repair, or Service a Rolex in San Diego

Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers is your go-to place for anything related to Rolex in San Diego. Our in-house Swiss factory-trained technicians are at your service, as well as our friendly and knowledgeable staff. Stay ahead of our best deals by subscribing to our mailing list and visit us regularly in store. We are San Diego’s largest independent jewelry and watch store and we’d love you show you what we’ve got!

How Long is a Rolex Made to Last?

To say that Rolex watches are not exactly cheap is an understatement. If you do decide to invest in a luxury timepiece, you probably want to know how long it will last.

While they’re definitely made to last, they still need some attention to stay in perfect shape over the years. If you already own one and need to have it serviced or want to know where to repair Rolex watches in San Diego, we have your answer!

With assistance from the knowledgeable in-house watchmakers at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers, your Rolex watch is certain to last a lifetime. Visit us today!

How Long Will a Rolex Last?

When you think of Rolex, you think of superior quality and impressive durability. While such a reputation is surely a good thing for a brand, it sets the bar high and inevitably begs the question: do Rolex watches live up to their name?

One thing is certain, Rolex has been consistent in producing top-quality timepieces that keep their luster over long time periods. What’s more, the brand continues to perfect and improve their watches year after year, making sure they still look as pristine in half a century as they do immediately after production.

If you own or want to invest in a Rolex, you probably want to know how long it should last. Thanks to the master craftsmanship and exquisite attention to detail that Rolex is known for, it’s safe to say that your timepiece is likely to stay in good shape for generations with proper care and maintenance.

This is evident in the fact that vintage Rolex watches are a watch collector’s favorite. Vintage models like the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner that are still in perfect working condition are quite common. Their appearance may show signs of aging, but with proper service from experienced watchmakers, they’ll look as good as new.

Rolex displayed in Rolex box with card.

Does Rolex Have A Lifetime Warranty?

While we’ve established that Rolex watches are highly durable, they don’t come with a lifetime warranty. Instead, all watches are covered by an international warranty for a period of 5 years after purchase. The warranty excludes:

  • Wear-and-tear (straps and non-metal bracelets)
  • Cases of theft and loss
  • Damage caused by misuse
  • Adding or substituting components with non-original parts
  • Repair or service done by a third-party

Some people may be disappointed with the duration of the Rolex warranty. However, it demonstrates just how confident the brand is in the quality of its products. In many cases, a Rolex timepiece can last a lifetime, especially if it’s serviced regularly. Rolex recommends service every 10 years, but every 5 to 7 years is good for ensuring optimal performance.

Where to Repair Rolex Watches in San Diego?

Rolex watches are undeniably high-quality and durable, but should still be regularly checked. Regular service and maintenance are a must if you want to make sure your watch is always in perfect condition. In the unlikely but not impossible scenario of your Rolex breaking down, you should have seasoned professionals who can fix the issue efficiently and expertly at your beck and call.

Fortunately, you won’t have to search for the finest experts in your area for too long. Simply visit Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers on your way to Downtown San Diego. Our factory-trained technicians can repair your watch with unmatched skill and expertise. What’s more, they can tell you everything you may want to know about Rolex timepieces, whether you want to know how to spot a counterfeit Rolex or need advice for cleaning your watch. Stop by our store today!

Features of a Rolex Datejust

Always the innovator, Rolex gained notoriety for their fashionable aesthetics and cutting-edge technology for wristwatches for both men and women. Considered the modern archetype of the classic watch, the Rolex Datejust masterfully combines visual appeal and high-end quality. Introduced the same year as their 40th anniversary (1945), the Rolex Datejust is the essence of the renowned brand.

The Datejust has spanned eras with numerous models. All of these include the unique features that make this specific Rolex so important to the company’s history. The Datejust was the first self-winding wristwatch to dsplay the date on the dial of the watch. The automatic calendar feature advances to the next date right at midnight – the moniker, “Datejust.”

The date is visible in a small window located at 3 o’clock on the dial. Originally, the Datejust had the venerable domed plastic watch crystal. In 1954, the versatile and high-quality watch was enhanced to include a magnifying cyclops eye on the watch crystal. This new element magnified the lens by 2.5 times to allow clearer visibility of the date. Eventually, a sapphire crystal replaced the entire plastic crystal, but that didn’t happen until 1988.

Rolex Datejust Bracelets

Another quality feature of this official chronometer is the waterproof Oyster case. The invention of the oyster case in 1926 was a major milestone for Rolex. Before this innovation, waterproofing watch cases involved an outer case being snapped over the watch itself. Since Rolex watches were made with wandering adventurers in mind, the Oyster case made exploring all parts of the world that much more convenient. The Oyster case gets its name from natural oysters, implying that the case closes as tight as an oyster’s shell. This ensures the watch’s safety during expeditions.

To honor the new model and the company’s 40th anniversary, Rolex created a new bracelet called the Jubilee. Initially, the Jubilee bracelet was only available with the 36mm Datejust, but due to its booming popularity, the bracelet was eventually made compatible with other Rolex models as well. Today, men and women watch enthusiasts can choose to equip their Datejust watches with the Jubilee bracelet, the Oyster bracelet, or a leather strap. All three options are suitable for every occasion and can be showcased with a variety of ensembles.

Rolex Datejust in stainless steel with a gray Roman numeral dial and green markers.

Rolex in San Diego

For over 50 years, the Datejust has remained one of the most recognizable and desirable Rolex models. The Rolex Datejust is available with an amazing variety of dials, bezels, bracelets, and sizes including both men’s and women’s styles. All Rolex watches in our showroom are pre-owned and can be anywhere from a few months to a few decades in age. All have been fully and expertly restored to their original, timeless splendor using only original Rolex parts, and come with a 2-year warranty. Don’t waste any time – visit our showroom on San Diego Avenue today to discover a dapper Datejust to fit your style.

History of the Omega Speedmaster

Anyone interested in history, space flight, or watch making will want to hear the story of the Omega Speedmaster. A little-known specialty watch in the 1950’s rose to fame as the watch of the astronauts. The Speedmaster sparked a top-secret development program with NASA. It is a symbol of the space race era that has endured and remains in use today. The watch has outlasted even the iconic Apollo rockets and space shuttles. This is a brief history of how it all began.

The Moon Watch

During the space program in the 1960’s, NASA sought a chronograph watch that could withstand space flight. It would have to be very accurate even when exposed to different extreme environments that don’t exist on Earth’s surface. NASA didn’t have its own development program for watches so it turned to the commercial sector to find a suitable piece.

The Omega Speedmaster seemed destined for fame. The first Speedmaster went into space on the arm of astronaut Wally Schirra in 1962. It was his personal model, and he wore it without any endorsement from NASA, as it was still several years before NASA had its own spaceflight certified watch. Between 1963 and 1964, NASA wanted to certify a watch for the Apollo missions and was open to many options. NASA directly reached out to several watch manufacturers to submit chronograph watches candidates for testing. Rolex, Hamilton, Lngines-Wittenauer and Omega submitted multiple models.

NASA Tests Omega, Rolex, & Hamilton Watches

Between October 1964 and March 1965 NASA subjected the candidate watches to these incredible tests:

  • High Temperature: 48 hours at 160°F followed by 30 minutes at 200°F
  • Low Temperature: 4 hours at 0°F
  • Temperature-Pressure: 15 cycles of heating to 160°F for 45 minutes, followed by cooling to 0°F for 45 minutes at 10-6 atmosphere
  • Relative Humidity: 240 hours at temperatures varying between 68°F and 160°F in a relative humidity of at least 95%
  • Oxygen Atmosphere: 48 hours in an atmosphere of 100% oxygen at a pressure of 0.35 atmosphere
  • Shock: Six shocks of 40 G, each 11 milliseconds in duration, in six different directions.
  • Acceleration: From 1 G to 7.25 G within 333 seconds, along an axis parallel to the longitudinal spacecraft axis
  • Decompression: 90 minutes in a vacuum of 10-6 atmosphere at a temperature of 160°F and 30 minutes at 200°F
  • High Pressure: 1.6 atmosphere for a minimum period of one hour
  • Vibration: Three cycles of 30 minutes of vibration varying from 5 to 2000 Hz
  • Acoustic Noise: 130 DB over a frequency range of 40 to 10,000 Hz, duration 30 minutes

Omega Speedmaster's Moon Landing

In the end, only one watch passed the tests: Omega Speedmaster. With that, the Speedmaster became NASA’s official watch for space exploration. Each astronaut was equipped with one from that point on. Now here’s a curious piece of history: the Omega company in Switzerland was unaware that their watch had been selected! This was because NASA procured the watches from the Omega USA subsidiary, which did not inform Omega headquarters of the project.

Omega headquarters only found out by seeing a news photograph of the Speedmaster on the arm of astronaut Ed White, during America’s first space walk in June 1965 – almost a year after testing had begun! It was four years later that the Speedmaster cemented its fame. On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin both wore an Omega Speedmaster as they walked on the moon. This was an unprecedented achievement for an off-the-shelf watch that had not at all been designed with space flight in mind. It remains part of the official gear issues to Nasa astronauts to this day, making it one of the longest continuous-use equipment items in the space program.

1967 Omega Speedmaster in stainless steel with a green Nato strap on museum display.

The Alaska Project

A few years after adopting the Speedmaster for space missions, NASA and Omega partnered to jointly develop a new version of the Speedmaster, designed from the ground up for space exploration. The project was undertaken in strict secrecy and code named The Alaska Project. The goal of the project was to make the perfect “space watch,” one resistant to extreme temperatures and solar radiation. Function dictated every design decision, leading to first-time innovations in watch making, as well as interesting aesthetic results. The Alaska Project Speedmaster result looked very different from the original. It was distinguished by the oversized, red, anodized, aluminum casing (removable).

The low thermal conductivity of aluminum protexted the watch against extreme temperature fluctuations, high and low, whilethe red color protected against some wavelengths of solar radiation. The watch case itself was made from titanium – a first-time innovation in watch making. The dial color was changed from black to white, because the white golod reflected the maximum amount of solar radiation awar from the watch. Omega produced five Alaska Project prototypes by 1969, but by that time, priorities were changing in the space program. NASA decided the original Speedmaster was fulfilling its role as mission watch sufficiently well, so no Alaska Project Speedmasters were ever ordered into production.

Omega Speedmaster's Unique History

No other watch on Earth has such a unique history, nor had any watch endured such rigorous, independent testing of quality as the Speedmaster. The irony of the Omega Speedmaster is the original, Earth-designed Speedmaster was adapted for the most important space exploration missions in history, and it still NASA’s official space flight watch, while the space-designed Speedmaster never left the ground.

Collector’s today can find many versions of the Omega Speedmaster, from modern models to the vintage “pre-moon” version of the 1950’s-1960’s, including a limited collector’s edition of the Alaska Project. Visit us today if you’re in search of an out-of-this-world luxury watch!

What Affects the Resale Value of Your Watch?

Watch Box of Luxury Watches

Highly collectible and stylish, mechanical watches are fine pieces of engineering, often made in small or limited editions. And buying one can be a good investment. Keep in mind, though, that the price of pre-owned watches fluctuates with fashion, trends, and market demand. If you’re interested in how to sell pre-owned watches, you should know that the resell price is almost always lower than the current retail price for a new watch.

Brand & Model

The finest luxury watches hold greater value than watches from non-luxury brands. The pre-owned watch market is dominated by Rolex and other fine brands such as Patek Philippe, Cartier, and Panerai. It’s the prestige as well as the high level of quality and workmanship that add value to a high-end timepiece.

Certain models are in more demand than others, regardless of the original retail price. And it’s sometimes the case that the more complications a pre-owned watch has, the better. A complication is any function that a watch has in addition to telling the time, such as date, moon phase, or 2nd time zone.

Age and materials used affect the price, as well. It doesn’t necessarily hold that the older your watch, the higher the value. Regular maintenance of any watch will help to preserve resale value as much as possible.

High-quality materials can add significantly to the value of a watch. Most fine Swiss and German watches are made of stainless steel, gold, platinum, titanium, or a combination of those metals.

Box & Papers

A high-end watch bought new always comes with a box and papers that confirm its authenticity. Anyone who collects watches should not throw the original packaging away because buyers appreciate having the original box and papers, although plenty of pre-owned watches are purchased without them.

If a watch is a true antique (over 100 years old), then the original papers and box in good condition could add significantly more value to the watch. In modern watches, the added value is much less but still there.

Serial Number

These numbers are one of the first things that an expert looks at when determining the price. Every timepiece has a unique serial number and it can reveal the age of the timepiece. There is also a reference or model number which applies to all watches of that specific model, while the serial number is exclusive to your watch only.

If you have the accompanying documentation of your watch, finding the numbers will be easy. If, however, you no longer have it, a professional can look for the serial number on the watch. Serial numbers can often be found on the side of the watch case underneath where the bracelet/strap attaches.

Condition

Not every watch is worn daily, and some owners are more careful than others. Nevertheless, a watch that is worn will get some tiny and maybe even a few deep scratches over time. The condition and working order of a watch can be a factor in resale value for the end user. Every buyer would like a luxurious timepiece that looks and works as new.

However, it is not necessary to restore a pre-owned watch in order to sell it to Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers. In fact, you may not recoup the money that you paid for the service, so it’s best to just sell your watch as-is. Our expert watchmaker will restore the watch before we offer it to a new owner. However, if you are not quite ready to sell, and want to restore your watch to its original condition, it’s imperative to take it to a professional watchmaker. This ensures that any worn parts will be replaced with genuine parts appropriate for the brand.

Beware that polishing a watch in the wrong way can devalue it. Only let a professional restoration and repair service restore the original factory finish on your watch. Otherwise, your watch might return from a restoration with a worse finish than when it started.

Service

A regular service and proper maintenance record is important proof that you have taken good care of your timepiece. This particularly matters if you’re looking to sell an older watch. If you’ve had it serviced by a trusted watchmaker every 3-5 years and have proper documentation to back this up, you may get a higher price.

Market Value

There is always a market for those who want to sell and buy pre-owned watches. There are collectors who just love the nostalgia of a vintage watch and its history, and collectible watches are highly appreciated among them. Therefore, if you’re selling a watch that is a rare or limited edition, you can expect to get a much higher price. However, the top brands will always be valued even if not particularly rare. Pre-owned watches from brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, and Omega are consistently popular and have remained desirable for years.

Safety and Security

You may have had the notion to try and sell your watch on your own. There are some serious issues to consider before embarking on that journey. Trying to sell in an online marketplace leaves you competing with thousands of other sellers and paying sales fees out of your profit. But selling locally is fraught with danger.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of criminals out there today, just waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting citizen who has an item of value for sale. There are horror stories of people responding to “for sale” ads turning out to be less than honest. A seller can face fake cashier’s checks, counterfeit money, and in worst case scenarios, actual robbery. Even meeting someone in a bank is no guarantee of your safety after you leave the bank. The only truly safe way to sell your valuable watch is to bring it to a reputable jewelry and watch store and let them sell it for you.

If you’re considering selling your pre-owned watch, bring it to one of our jewelry and watch buying locations, including our flagship buying office on San Diego Avenue. At Leo Hamel Jewelry & Gold Buyers, we’ve been buying and selling pre-owned watches for over 44 years and are able to offer you top dollar for your treasured timepiece. Our Swiss factory trained watchmaker and polite and experienced buying experts have the skills and knowledge to accurately price your watch. You can even trade in your watch for a new purchase.

We know that selling your valuables can be an emotional experience and we ensure that all our buying offices are safe, secure, and private. Find your nearest Leo Hamel Jewelry & Gold Buyers and visit us today! No appointment is necessary.

Rolex Submariner vs. Explorer II

Close-up of a Rolex Submariner in stainless steel with a black dial, white markers, and a black ceramic bezel.

Rugged, long-lasting, reliable, and accurate – all these adjectives describe the two most coveted Rolex sport watches. We’re talking about the Rolex Submariner and the Rolex Explorer II. When it comes to deciding which Rolex to purchase, you have some thinking to do. Both are signature Rolex watches but display different Rolex trademarked features.

Read on for a breakdown of differences between the Rolex Submariner and the Rolex Explorer II. After reading this, we hope you will be able to make an informed choice about your next Rolex purchase.

Basic Differences

To begin with, the names of the two watches show us the first and most important difference. The Submariner is primarily a dive watch and used for underwater activities in general. By contrast, the Explorer II is used for outdoor activities that don’t involve water, such as climbing. This difference determined the choice of features for one watch compared to the other.

Although both are used for outdoor activities, the Submariner is seen by some as more rugged. This model is typically worn with more casual outfits, whereas the Explorer II has a more classic look. The Submariner doesn’t sit as comfortably under a shirt cuff as the Explorer II does, so the Explorer II is more comfortable when worn with a suit.

The Explorer II is made of 904L steel, which is an extremely durable superalloy. Rolex is one of the few watchmakers who use it for their watches. The Submariner is crafted from a variety of metals, including 904L steel, a combination of steel & yellow gold, solid yellow gold, and solid white gold.

Case

Case size is one reason why some people find that the Rolex Submariner appears more rugged than the Explorer II. The Submariner has a super case of 40mm diameter compared to the Explorer II case with a 39mm diameter.

However, the 1mm difference in diameter alone cannot possibly account for the perceived difference in size. It may be the larger bracelet lugs on the Submariner that make it appear much bigger. Larger lugs create the illusion of greater size without affecting the diameter of the watchcase.

Bezel

Another reason the Submariner appears even larger than it is compared to the Explorer II is its more pronounced bezel. The Submariner’s bezel is one of the key features of this watch. Its one-directional rotating bezel with graduations enables divers to time their dives. It only turns one way so that a mistake can’t be made to accidentally shorten the decompression time. The newest model has an insert made of Cerachrom ceramic, which is virtually un-scratchable. What’s more – the bezel doesn’t change color from exposure to UV-rays.

By contrast, the Explorer II has 24-hour graduations carved into the bezel and a 24-hour hand. Because of this, human explorers can differentiate between night and day in extreme conditions. Although stainless steel isn’t as scratch-resistant as ceramic, it’s malleable, so it would bend rather than crack under pressure.

Bracelet and Clasp

The Submariner and Explorer II have the same 20mm wide Oyster bracelet. The Oyster has a satin finish on the outside links and high polish on the inside links. The Submariner has a Rolex Glidelock clasp, which allows for up to 20mm of extension. This feature comes in very handy when divers can quickly adjust the bracelet to fit their watches over their wetsuits.

The Explorer II has an Easylink comfort extension link that allows for 5mm of extra room for gloves, etc. Both models feature the Rolex Oysterlock folding safety clasp, which prevents the clasp from being pulled open accidentally, potentially resulting in loss of the watch in the ocean or down a mountainside.

Movement

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, both watches are extremely precise, owing to their superlative chronometer movements. The official superlative chronometer certification means that the watches have passed hours of stringent tests to prove they live up to Rolex standards of accuracy and dependability.

On both watches, a solid non-see-through case back (typical of Rolex watches) houses the watch mechanism. The Submariner uses a 3135 movement for the Date model and 3130 for the Non-Date. However, the Explorer II has a 3187 movement.

Other Features

As expected, the Rolex Submariner is water-resistant. Owing to the triple-seal Triplock winding crown, it has water-resistance up to 1,000 feet. With the Rolex Explorer II, however, shock-resistance is more important than water-resistance. Because of this, the Rolex Explorer II has newly improved shock-resistant features consisting of a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers.

As for the dial, the Submariner features luminous hour markers and hands crafted from 18k white gold that glow in the dark. A compound called Chromalight has been used on Rolex dials since 2008, and glows blue.

Prior to 2008, a compound called Super Luminova that glowed green was used on Rolex dials. With glowing markers, hour hand and second hand, the wearer can tell time clearly at night or in low-light capacity, such as underwater while diving. The markers can stay lit for as long as 8 hours! The Explorer II also features luminous hour markers and numerals, hour hand, second hand, and 24-hour hand.

Leo Hamel’s has been buying and selling pre-owned Rolex watches for 43 years! We know them inside and out and can easily spot fakes versus genuine Rolex. We seek out the best pre-owned Rolex watches and thoroughly recondition them to look and run like new and add a 2-year warranty.

You can save hundreds to thousands of dollars by purchasing a certified reconditioned pre-owned Rolex as compared to a new one. No one but you will know that you didn’t buy it new and pay full price. Our stunning collection of pre-owned Rolex watches changes daily! You simply must come to our store to see the current selection and snap up the very best deals. Come see us and choose your next pre-owned Rolex Submariner or Explorer II!

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