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Jewels in a Movement

When you check the case back on an automatic movement, you can see some of the movement’s information etched into the steel. Some of that information includes the number of jewels, but what does it mean? Why are jewels used in mechanical movements at all?

Jewels in watch movements serve a very important function in keeping the timepiece operational. Because there are a lot of moving parts in a watch movement, including the balance wheel and palette fork, it puts a lot of stress and friction in the steel. Over time, it would wear down on the metal until it becomes too worn to work properly. The jewels are placed in strategic locations to serve as a buffer between moving parts, which reduces friction, as well as wear and tear. In general, the level of complications can be guaged by the number of jewels in the movement. Rubies are typically used because of their incredible durability; they rate 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness (10 being the highest, which is the hardness of diamonds).

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