Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!

Learn about mechanical timepieces and how they work, the history of the American watch industry and especially all about the Elgin National Watch Company! Check back for new content daily.

Although this is technically a blog, the content is not generally in a time-based sequence. You can find interesting items throughout. Down the page some is an alphabetical word cloud of keywords used here. A great way to dig in is to look through those topics and click anything you find interesting. You'll see all the relevant content.

Here are a few of my favorites!

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Q&A - What are Watch Jewels?

What are watch jewels and how are they made?

Watch jewels are typically synthetic ruby or sapphire. On some watches you will see the occasional diamond chip used, in a prominent place such as the cap jewel on the balance cock, just as a way to add some distinction.

These tiny donuts shaped parts support the moving parts in the watch. The extreme hardness of the jewel and the hardened steel pivots of the wheels form a very precise and long-lived bearing.

As an aside, I occasionally hear talk of how unscrupulous watchmakers sometimes steal the jewels from a watch.  This is one of those persistent mechanical watch myths that just never seem to go away. First of all the jewels in a watch are not valuable. Ans secondly, their function is completely practical, and not decorative. The watch will not run without them!

Find out more about watch jewels here:


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