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.

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.


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.

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!