Home / History / Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 16: The Jeweling

Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 16: The Jeweling

Burlington Special “The Jewels,” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.
Pictured: Burlington Special “The Jewels,” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.

The 16-Size Grade 185 “Burlington Special” sold by the Burlington Watch Company featured nineteen ruby and sapphire jewels.

The c.1911 Burlington Watch Company catalog draws attention to the jeweling:

The Jewels. The jewels used are the finest grade of selected genuine imported ruby and sapphire jewels, absolutely flawless. Nineteen of these chosen gems protect every point which might be subject to wear or friction, or disturbing the nicety of adjustment. It is well understood in the railroad business that 19 jewels is the proper number for maximum efficiency. The 19 jewels is a common requirement of railroads. Some watches produced have more than 19 jewels. This is in response to the demand from people who think jewels make a watch. Jewels are important – the jewels necessary should be of the highest grade – but the jewels are important, not in themselves, but as a protection to the intricate delicate movement. Nineteen jewels is regarded by experts as the best for a perfect watch, more jewels often being a source of complication, rather than service. The smaller size ladies’ watch has 17 jewels, giving the watch the protection needed for a lifetime of service.”c.1911 Burlington Watch Company Catalog

This summary claims that “nineteen jewels is regarded by experts as the best for a perfect watch,” as if it were fact. However, this was widely controversial at the time, with “experts” debating the utility of additional cap jewels and barrel jeweling. Some argued that seventeen jewels were entirely sufficient, providing jeweling for the entire gear train pivots. In contrast, others claimed that additional cap jewels offered better protection and further reduced friction in dial-up and dial-down positions.

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