rolex watch with bezel

What Is A Bezel On A Watch: A Guide On The Watch Bezel

What is a bezel on a watch? You may know all about the crown and the watch strap, but do you know much about the beloved bezel?

The following guide will teach you all you need to know about the history of the watch bezel, the purpose of the bezel, and how to replace a faulty bezel.

Where Does The Watch Bezel Originate From?

close up of watch with bezel

Around since the 1930s, the watch bezel has played a significant part in the evolution of the watch industry. At first, bezels were simple features intended to add beauty and practicality to a timepiece.

Nowadays, they are much more complicated. There are 11 types of watch bezel, each one possessing a unique purpose.

What Is A Bezel In A Watch?

watch with black bezel

The watch bezel is the ring that encircles the crystal glass to secure it in place. It is one of the many parts of the watch case. Bezels are usually metal but they can come in other materials such as ceramic.

Wondering how to use watch bezel? Well, this depends on the type of bezel you’re dealing with. We will outline the different types of bezel below and explain how to use each one.

What Is A Rotating Bezel On A Watch & What Is The Rotating Watch Bezel Function?

gold invicta watch with gold bezel

Rotating bezels have spiked in popularity over the years. In fact, most bezel watches in 2021 feature a rotating bezel. We mainly see them on diver watches due to their useful underwater functions.

Some rotating bezels are unidirectional, meaning they only rotate anti-clockwise. Others are bi-directional; they rotate both clockwise and anti-clockwise. Bidirectional watches are typically sold by luxury brands. For example, Rolex is known for its signature blue and red rotating bezels.

What Is A Bezel For On A Diver’s Watch?

The purpose of a rotating bezel is to warn divers when their oxygen is running low. As most scuba tanks run out of oxygen in around 60 minutes, rotating bezels are split into 60 sections with each section representing one minute.

Rotating Bezel: How To Use

Before a diver goes underwater, they can set their timepiece to a specific time depending on the depth they are planning to reach. They do this by locating the red arrow on the bezel and setting it to the correct position.

Watch Bezel Types

watch bezel types

Different bezels have completely different purposes, so here is an explanation of all 11 types:

Plain Bezel

This is the simplest type of bezel with minimal added features. Occasionally, plain bezels are beautified with jewels or patterns.

GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

GMT bezels are ideal for the adventurers out there. They display the time in your origin country. As well as this, you can set the dial to show the time zone in the country you are currently in.


The decimal bezel is often paired with a chronograph feature. It is split up into 10 sections in order to  accurately display the time in decimals.


As the name suggests, these are used for yacht racing. They helpfully indicate when the race begins.


This is a vintage type of bezel. Medical staff used to use this bezel to measure the heart rate of their patients.


The compass bezel was designed for long hikes. Instead of numbers, directions (NESW) are presented on the bezel.


This bezel type tells you the distance between you and someone or something else.

Slide Rule

If you are still wondering ‘what is the rotating bezel on watch used for?’, here is a real life example. The slide rule is a rotating bezel that calculates speed, distance, and time.


Often seen on dive watches, the count-up calculates the time that has passed since any given moment. There are 60 separate sections on the count-up.


The opposite of a count-up bezel, the countdown counts from 60 to 0, allowing runners to time how far they can go in that amount of time.


This is an example of a fixed bezel watch. First, you reset the stopwatch to 0 and then you can use it whenever you need to. It measures speed, time elapsed, and distance travelled, making it good for racing.

Watch Bezel Replacement

watch repair

If you’re not shy of DIY and you would like to replace your watch bezel yourself, here’s an easy guide:

What You Will Need

  • Bezel
  • Bezel insert
  • Watch knife


1. Gather your tools and place them on a flat work surface.
2. Get your knife and press it into the gap between the bezel and the case, not stopping until you cannot go any further. Then, simply use the knife to pull the bezel away from the case.
3. Find your new bezel and insert it onto the dial by applying plenty of force.
4. Get your new bezel insert and line it up with the 12 o’clock marker on the bezel, before pressing it down.

As easy as this process is, you may not have time to repair faults on your watch. If that’s the case, you can head to Watch Service UK or Repairs By Post for a quote on a watch bezel replacement.

Our Final Thoughts On Watch Bezel Use

breitling watch with bezel

Watch bezels have come a long way since their first introduction in the 1930s. They have gone from simple additions to complex features that we see on many luxury watches.

If you enjoy seeing how the watch industry has evolved for the better, you would love our collection of men’s and women’s watches. Uniform Wares timepieces are an excellent example of the power of Swiss-made minimalism. Browse our watches for sale today.

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