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I have enjoyed browsing pocket watches for years, but have bought only three. I have a new production, with a Swiss ETA movement, and two vintage pocket watches, one that is a very old (137-year-old) 11-jewel watch, and a 1918 15-jewel Elgin that I bought recently. I know that it is not "all about the jewels," as my 11-jewel watch is usually between +1 and +8, and has never been slow. Likewise, I have read that the matter of jewels is more relevant to overall wear, as the jewels are at points of friction.

Since I like smaller watches, I have noticed that many 12s watches feature movements with fewer jewels. Many of these watches are in great cosmetic condition, and most can be had for very little. I welcome any comments on these watches, especially those with only the "baseline" 7 jewels.
 

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I have a 14-size seven-jewel Waltham from 1899 that keeps time (the last time I checked it) to about 1-3 minutes a week. But that was with RELENTLESS regulating of the timepiece on my part. I doubt most 7j watches could keep that kind of accuracy, but it could be possible. I think I read somewhere that Harrison's maritime chronometer pocket-watch was accurate for weeks on end, and it only had seven jewels.
 

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Apart from the improved resistance to wear on a higher jeweled pocket watch (15j is basically fully jeweled), you will also find that more effort was made in adjusting higher jeweled watches when new. Adjustment to positions can be found on 15/17j watches and up, depending on when it was made and the market slot it was supposed to fill. Adjustments are time consuming, and made up for a fair bit of the higher cost of these watches. This applies to any size, whether it is 12s, 14s, 16s etc. A 7j pocketwatch, of any size, would likely be unadjusted. This does not mean these can't be good timekeepers, properly serviced they will perform very well. I have picked up quite a few 7j watches in very good condition, they are affordable and a nice complement to my higher jeweled ones.
 
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