Contact Us

What Is the Bezel on the Rotating Watch Case and How Do You Use It?

Nov 30,2023/Watch Education

The bezel is one of the most common and yet misunderstood parts of a watch. So, what exactly is a bezel and how should you use it?

What is the Bezel on a Watch? Rotating Case Bezels?

Simply put, a watch's bezel is a material ring (typically made of ceramic or metal) that is used to secure the watch's crystal. Bezels can either be fixed decorative components or functional parts with features such as a countdown timer, GMT indicator, or even a compass. Typically, bezels on rotating watch cases can be rotated and have markings related to their functionalities.

What is the Purpose of a Rotating Watch Case Bezel?

The purpose of the bezel depends on the type of watch. Whether fixed or rotating, they are used to secure the watch's crystal. Additionally, rotating watch case bezels can also be used as timers, dual-time zone indicators, compasses, and other functionalities. Functional watches' bezels will have specific markings related to the purpose of the watch, such as cardinal direction markings on a compass bezel.

Rotating watch case bezels are most commonly associated with diving watches. The history of diving watches is closely tied to the history of bezels.

While the history of watch bezels can be traced back to the 1930s, their true rise began in the 1950s. In the 1950s, rotating watch case bezels and the dive watches that featured them became widely popular.

Dive watches existed before the introduction of rotating bezels, but it was this new feature that elevated them to a new level of practicality. Now, divers could experience new levels of accuracy during their (potentially life-threatening) ascent to the surface.

4 Common Types of Rotating Watch Case Bezels

Countdown Timer Bezel

Traditionally, the countdown timer bezel has been a hallmark feature of dive watches. Today, this type of bezel is a common design choice, imbuing wearers with an "adventurous" appeal.

These bezels feature markings from 60 to 0, corresponding to the minutes in an hour, and typically rotate in a clockwise direction.

To use a countdown timer bezel, simply rotate the bezel until the arrow aligns with the minute hand's current position. Then, you can use the markings on the edge of the bezel to track the remaining time. It's that simple.

GMT Watch Bezel

Here, GMT stands for "Greenwich Mean Time," and having this type of watch allows you to simultaneously track the time in multiple time zones.

The GMT bezel features a 24-hour indicator that can be rotated to correspond with any time zone in the world. Using a GMT bezel is straightforward. First, calculate the time difference between your location and the one you wish to track. Then, rotate the bezel so that zero aligns with the new 12 o'clock position on your watch.

For example, New York (Eastern Standard Time) is three hours ahead of California (Pacific Standard Time). So, a person in California would rotate the GMT bezel clockwise until zero aligns with the 3 o'clock position.

Compass Bezel

The compass watch bezel is another common style popular among adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. This type of bezel features major directional markers such as North, South, East, and West.

Unlike the countdown timer bezel, the compass bezel can rotate clockwise and counterclockwise.

To use a compass watch bezel, you first need to determine your orientation. In the Northern Hemisphere, users of this type of watch should rotate the bezel to position the "South" indicator directly between the 12 o'clock mark and the hour hand. Next, when taking directional readings, keep the watch level and point the hour hand at the sun.

However, in the Southern Hemisphere, people should place the "North" marker between the hour hand and the 12 o'clock mark to set the compass bezel.

Tachymeter Bezel

The tachymeter watch bezel is undoubtedly the most complex bezel style we've covered so far. This type of bezel can be used to calculate speed and almost always includes a chronograph as you need to track time.

To use a tachymeter watch bezel, you need to know the elapsed time. For example, to determine the speed from point A to point B, you would start the chronograph as you leave/pass point A and stop it when you reach point B.

Next, you need to know the distance traveled within the time you tracked to calculate the speed.

If the distance between points A and B is 1 mile, and the travel time is 45 seconds, find the point on the tachymeter corresponding to 45 seconds to determine the speed. Here, the speed is 80 miles per hour.

Related News
Want to stay up to date? Subscribe to our Newsletter!
7th Floor, A3 building, Zhongtai Technology Industrial Park, Dezheng Road, Shiyan street, Baoan district, Shenzhen city, China.
7th Floor, A3 building, Zhongtai Technology Industrial Park, Dezheng Road, Shiyan street, Baoan district, Shenzhen city, China.