Many times, new watch collectors are unsure how to identify a quality pocket watch. With all the grades, models, sizes, and manufacturers, how can you determine if you are looking at a high-end watch? Here are 5 characteristics that can quickly distinguish a quality pocket watch:
- Jewel Count. Movements with 17 or more jewels contain hole jewels for the entire gear train, giving the movement improved accuracy and longevity. Jewel counts greater than 17 certainly improve other aspects, but a jeweled gear train helps reduce friction in the most important areas. Lower quality movements usually contain 7-15 jewels, and are often not marked with the jewel count. How to determine jewel count
- Screw-set Jewels. Plate jewels that are set with screws were more expensive to manufacture and were easier to repair when problems arose. In contrast, friction-set jewels were less expensive and repairs require much more effort. As a result, higher quality movements almost always contain screw-set jewels, especially before 1930.
- Micrometer Regulator. This feature is often overlooked by new collectors while evaluating a movement. Micrometer regulators, sometimes referred to as patent regulators, were used on higher quality movements, allowing the owner or a jeweler to make precision adjustments to the oscillation rate of the balance wheel, changing the speed of the watch. All movements will contain a regulator, but lower-quality movement usually do not contain an additional mechanism to allow for precision incremental adjustments. List of common patent regulators used on pocket watches
- Double-Sunk Dial. This is an easy way to determine quality without even inspecting the movement. Double-sunk dials took more time and effort to manufacture. As a result, these dials were typically reserved for watches of higher quality. While this is not always the case, it is an excellent indicator. Do not be fooled by a black line imitating the second sink, which is common.
- Adjustments. Quality watches were adjusted at the factory to improve accuracy in a variety of circumstances. Typically, more adjustments indicate a better quality movement. Top tier movements are adjusted to five or six positions, temperature, and isochronism. Adjusted watches are usually stamped as such, and later watches often include the type of adjustments.
While these characteristics are not always correlated with a high-end pocket watch, they will certainly will give a general indication of quality.