Is more jewels the same as more expensive??

airborne's picture

I am looking on a very nice Bulova from I think 1935 modell is unknown. The movment is 21 jewels. Does the movment indicate that it is a more exclusive watch. If compared to 15 or 17 jewels Bulovas.

Kind regards

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted March 16, 2013 - 7:32pm

Panel Member

Not so much exclusive, more expensive to make so it costs more. The cap jewels that bump it up to 21 protect from dust, hold the oil, etc. and in some instances, govern endshake. In a 17 jewel movt, it has the centre wheel jewelled as opposed to the 15j version, and jewels just make excellent bearing surfaces from an engineering standpoint. 

Posted March 18, 2013 - 8:40am

Club 5000Panel Member

Your price is going to come down to the overall condition of the watch. There are certainly 15 and 17 jewelled models that would be worth more than a 21J movement. The 21Js are a better quality movement, but in a vintage Bulova watch it really doesn't make a great difference in the overall value. Most collectors I would imagine would look at the overall condition of the watch and not just the amount of jewels in the movement. 15, 17 and 21 jewel movements are basically the same and the increase to 23 and 30 jewelled movements was Bulova's way with keeping up and sometimes ahead of the competition and producing top quality movements.

A Bulova is quality regardless if its 15,17 or 21 in my books. You can't lose either way.

dwentzel's picture
Posted October 27, 2014 - 9:23pm

The minimum number of jewels required for a reliable watch is 7. When you start adding more jewels you help to decrease the the friction in the train while maximizing power output and power reserve. During the late 1800s and early 1900s Hamilton produced the first RR approved watches with 15 jewels, this was a very stringent requirements by the RR. Bulova, like many of the other US watch producers put their jewels into areas that actually helped to reduce friction and improve accuracy. The highest jewel count that Bulova made was the 23 and 30 jewel movements, they are some of the best movements ever created, way underrated by the world wide collectors. The fit and finish of these movements would cost you thousands of dollars by comparable modern movements