A Matter of Brilliance is a professional jewelry appraisal company based in Newton, MA, founded by Aimee Berrent, Graduate Gemologist. Our appraisals can be used to:
When we think about heirlooms, you probably think of gemstones instead of watches. But watches are symbols of amazing craftsmanship, collectable, and, in my opinion, totally fascinating.
You know what a watch looks like from the outside, but what’s going on inside the casing? Here are three types of movements:
1. Mechanical: Before batteries, watches were all mechanical. These watches were first developed in the 17th century, and haven’t changed that much:
- They’re operated by a spring, which is wound by its stem.
- A weighted wheel goes back and forth and moves forward a small amount with each swing.
- That action moves the watch’s hands forward (and makes that ticking sound that you hear in mechanical watches).
- The second hand on a mechanical watch sweeps around the face.
- Jewels, usually synthetic rubies, reduce metal-on-metal friction. Only a few jewels are necessary in most mechanical watches.
One source estimates that there are a minimum of 100 moving pieces in a mechanical watch! As you can see, the movement is a piece of art.
2. Automatic: An automatic watch (also known as “self-winding”) works much like a mechanical watch.
- Instead of your having to wind it manually, the watch gets its energy from the natural movements of your wrist.
- A small piece, called the rotor, is connected to the movement. Every time your wrist moves, the rotor spins, which automatically winds the mainspring.
- If you don’t wear your watch for a few days, you’ll have to wind it by hand.
- Rolex watches are actually automatic.
3. Quartz: A watch with a quartz movement is an electronic version that uses a battery to charge and run it.
- A tiny sliver of quartz vibrates when electricity is passed through it.
- The resulting vibrations make the watch hands move.
- The second hand on a quartz watch moves around the face in distinct clicks.
- Quartz movements gained popularity in the 1970s.
The highest-end watches (the Rolls Royces of the industry) include Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Chopard, Fortis, Franck Mueller, IWC, Jaeger-Le Coultre, Patek Phillipe, and Ulysse Nardin. These watches are hand made, with prices that can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In future blogs, I’ll discuss what makes a collectible watch. Just as with your precious jewels, these works of art should be insured. For an up-to-date appraisal of your collectible watches, call me. It won’t be a minute too soon!
Brilliantly yours, Aimee