Types of Watch Bezels
The watch bezel is a unique component of a watch. Not only is the bezel used in the watch's design, but it also serves a purpose! The watch bezel is the ring of the watch that holds the watch's glass or crystal in place.
The watch bezel can be fixed as a decorative piece or rotate to perform a function. A unidirectional watch bezel will only rotate counter-clockwise, while a bidirectional bezel will rotate both clockwise and counter-clockwise.
A watch bezel has markings to indicate the seconds. The seconds might be in increments of 5’s or 10’s until they reach 60.
There are many different types of watch bezels that all serve different functions. These are the most popular types of watch bezels and how they are used.
Types of Watch Bezels
The Fashion Bezel
A plain bezel is almost always designed with very minimal features. Their purpose is to add to the design and look of the watch rather than add functionality to the watch. A plain bezel can have jewels or patterns to add to the watch’s design.
The Countdown Bezel
A countdown bezel counts down from 60 to zero. The countdown bezel is commonly used to measure the distance a runner or a swimmer can go in a certain amount of time.
The Count-Up Bezel
Opposite the countdown bezel is the count-up bezel. A count-up bezel first made its appearance on the dive watch. Divers needed a way to track how much time they spent underwater. The bezel is engraved with a 60-minute scale that begins to count up when the minute hand is aligned with the zero marker on the bezel.
A count-up bezel for divers should only be unidirectional, meaning that the bezel can only be turned in one direction. This is a safety feature that keeps divers safe while underwater. If the bezel was bidirectional, meaning that it could move in both directions, it could move and mismeasure the time you’ve spent underwater.
If the bezel gets moved during the dive with a modern count-up bezel, the diver will resurface too soon rather than too late, which keeps the diver safe.
For a count-up bezel to be a dive watch, it should only be unidirectional. If a count-up bezel can move bidirectionally, it isn’t a dive watch and shouldn’t be used for diving.
The GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) Bezel
The best bezel for world travelers is the GMT bezel. A GMT bezel allows the wearer to know the time in different cities worldwide just by turning the bezel. The GMT bezel got its name from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.
The GMT bezel was designed to know the current Greenwich Mean Time—however, you can use a GMT bezel to keep track of any time zone you want. Simply rotate the bezel to the current time in the time zone that you need to know. The bezel will keep track of the time zone you’re tracking while also keeping your current time.
The Tachymeter Bezel
The tachymeter bezel is one of the most popular bezel types. A tachymeter bezel is a fixed bezel and does not rotate at all. A tachymeter bezel allows the user to measure speed or distance with an elapsed time. A tachymeter bezel will also use a chronograph which is a mechanical stopwatch. These two components work together to let the user measure an accurate time.
A tachymeter bezel is simple to use. You will start the timer when you begin measuring your distance or speed. Then, you will stop the timer when you have reached your distance and read the numbers indicated on the bezel. A tachymeter bezel can keep track of anything that occurs in a time between 10 seconds to one minute.
The Compass Bezel
Another bezel for the adventurer is the compass bezel. The compass watch bezel has the cardinal directions—north, south, east, and west—engraved onto the watch bezel. It can be rotated bidirectionally.
To orient your location using a compass bezel, you will need to rotate the bezel between 12:00 and the hour hand. If you are in the northern hemisphere, rotate the bezel so that the south indicator is located between 12:00 and the hour hand.
If you are in the southern hemisphere, rotate the bezel so that the north indicator is located between the hour hand and 12:00. Hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand towards the sun.
You should calibrate a compass bezel every hour so that you continue to stay on course.
The Slide Rule Bezel
If you need a bezel to help you with mathematical calculations, this bezel is for you. The slide rule bezel will calculate multiplication and division. While it was originally designed for airspeed and fuel consumption for pilots, you can use a slide rule bezel for something as simple as calculating a tip amount at a restaurant!
For basic multiplication, you will turn the outer bezel to the first number and line it up with the 10 on the inner scale. The number 10 is considered the base conversion factor that all numbers use in their calculation. So, for basic 9 times 8 multiplication, you will align the 9 with the 10 on the inner scale. Then, find the 8 on the scale and read the number underneath it: 72.
For division, start with the larger number on the outer bezel and line it up with the number you’re diving by. Then, read the number shown under the 10 on the inner dial.
Many different types of watch bezels can serve many different purposes. Some watch bezels are chosen simply for their look and design, while others are chosen for their functionality and performance.
These are the most popular types of watch bezels that can be found on many types of watches. Whether you need a watch to help you navigate an adventure or to simply measure time or speed, there is a watch bezel for anything you need.