Every watch that you own has a bezel, however there are many different types to choose from.
From the simple, stationary bezel on the majority of watches. To popular dive bezels, to racing tachymeter bezels too.
In this blog post we’ll explore the top 10 most common types of watch bezels.
Discover the world of different bezels and find out which ones your watches have today.
What is a watch bezel?
The bezel on your watch is the ring that wraps around your watch’s crystal. This ring frames the crystal and keeps it secure to your watch’s case.
Understanding Bezel Scales
Bezels can look different, and feel different. However, many also fulfill a different function thanks to the scales they have displayed on them.
The scales on a bezel will help you to perform many different tasks.
From calculating the amount of time left for a dive, to checking the time in São Paulo while you’re in Paris, to figuring out the speed of a race car.
The scales on a bezel is where you’ll see the main difference between all of the types of watch bezels.
Check out a quick comparison chart of all the top 10 different types of watch bezels and what they’re used for.
Different Types of Watch Bezels
- Plain Bezel
- Dive Bezel
- GMT Bezel
- Tachymeter Bezel
- Telemeter Bezel
- Decimal Bezel
- Compass Bezel
- Yacht-Timer Bezel
- Pulsometer Bezel
- Slide Rule Bezel
1. Plain Bezel
Many watches will simply have a plain bezel, one that is stationary (i.e. doesn’t move) and has no real purpose. Other than to keep your watch crystal safely attached to your watch’s case.
Even though this bezel is given the name of Plain Bezel, it is often not very plain.
This type of watch bezel can have many variations. From jewel encrusted bezels, to detailed engravings, to many other patterns and aesthetics. There’s endless choice.
You’ll often hear it called Stationary Bezel too.
2. Dive Bezel
One of the most well known bezels has to be the Dive Bezel.
The Dive Bezel is one of the main features that sets a diver timepiece from the rest of the different styles of watches (learn more about the others here).
This type of watch bezel is used to calculate the amount of time a diver has underwater. It’s often used to calculate the bottom time of a dive.
This calculation is crucial for the diver to avoid injury. Making the dive bezel an essential feature of any dive watch.
There are however two different methods to using the Dive Bezel as a dive timer. There is the easy method known as the Count Up method, and then the more difficult one called the Countdown method.
These two methods are broken down into two different types of dive watch bezels.
a. Count Up Bezel
A Count Up Bezel is most often found on dive watches, but they can also be found on sports watches too.
The bezel scale on this type of watch bezel has a scale of 0 – 60 minutes, aligned with the dial. The 12 o’clock position of the bezel is then usually marked with an arrow, and is often luminous.
This watch can track up to an hour of time. How you use it is very simple. You just align the arrow with the minute hand. Then you can see how much time has passed within the hour.
b. Countdown Bezel
Then a Countdown Bezel is another type of dive watch bezel.
This type of bezel has the same function. It’s used as a timer by divers. The main difference is that instead of counting up, this watch does a countdown from 60 – 0 instead.
This is considered the more traditional Dive Bezel and is recommended as the best method for divers to use.
This type of bezel is also popular among sports people to time workouts as well.
3. GMT Bezel
Next in the different types of bezels is the GMT Bezel, also known as a Dual Time Bezel, or a World Time Bezel.
The GMT Bezel is used on GMT watches. GMT watches that can help you to read what time it is in more than one time zone at the same time.
This bezel comes with 24 hour markings around it, to help you read the time in many different places in the world.
Also GMT watches come with a fourth hand known as a GMT hand, which you use to tell the time in other time zones.
Learn more about GMT watches and how they work.
4. Tachymeter Bezel
The Tachymeter Bezel is found on racing inspired or motorsports watches. The Tachymeter Bezel is mainly used to calculate the speed of a car or motorbike.
To do this you simply set the bezel to 0 before you set off. Then you can calculate the speed you are by checking the bezel.
See how it works in the video below, and check out its other functions too.
You’ll often see a Tachymeter Bezel accompany a chronograph. To learn more about chronographs then check out our guide.
5. Telemeter Bezel
A Telemeter Bezel is similar to a Tachymeter Bezel. However, it is far less common.
The Telemeter Bezel is used to calculate distance, instead of speed. They are also often coupled with a chronograph, which is a watch with a stopwatch function.
Telemeter Bezel are mainly used to calculate the distance from a person to a far away event or object.
A good example is that a Telemeter Bezel can be used to calculate the distance of a lightning strike.
How to do this is first you need to start the chronograph when you see the lightning strike. Then stop the watch when you hear the clap of thunder.
Then use the telemeter scale to work out how far away it is based on the time.
More often than not you’ll see the telemeter function displayed on the dial, instead of as part of the bezel.
6. Compass Bezel
The Compass Bezel is of course a bezel with a compass on it.
They are an easy bezel to spot thanks to the letters representing the directions. These types of watch bezels are very popular with hikers and those who love the outdoors.
How one of these bezels work depends first on which hemisphere you are located in.
Check out the video below to learn how to use a Compass Bezel on a watch when you’re in the Northern hemisphere.
7. Decimal Bezel
The Decimal Bezel is a type of watch bezel that’s often used by engineers, or scientists.
This bezel type helps keep track of time. The scale on this bezel is split into 100 parts. This helps you convert the time into the decimal conversion of time.
You’ll usually see the Decimal Bezel paired with a chronograph.
8. Yacht-Timer Bezel
As the name suggests, the Yacht-Timer Bezel is made for those who like to yacht, and more specifically yacht racing.
This type of watch is also called the Regatta Timer. This name refers to regatta races, which are races involving yachts, sail boats, or even row boats.
The Yacht-Timer Bezel can be used to time the countdown for the start of one of these races. Starting a race on water is much more difficult than starting one on land.
One of the most well known Yacht-Timer is the Rolex YachtMaster.
9. Pulsometer Bezel
A Pulsometer Bezel is a very popular type of watch bezel among nurses, and other medical personnel.
Like the Telemeter Bezel, you’ll often see this function displayed on the dial instead of the bezel.
A Pulsometer Bezel can help you to calculate the rate of someone’s heartbeat. You can tell a watch has this type of bezel thanks to the 40 to 200 scale around it.
These types of watches were more popular in the past, yet many nurses and doctors still like to have one on hand today.
The German medical watchmaker Speidel has an affordable Pulsometer style watch.
10. Slide Rule Bezel
We saved the most complicated type of watch bezel for last, and that is the Slide Rule Bezel.
A Slide Rule Bezel might look like a mess of numbers and lines, however, it’s an excellent tool to use to perform complicated calculations. You perform these calculations by using the inner and outer rings of this bezel, and their scales.
You can use a Slide Rule to calculate a percentage. For example calculating a tip on a dinner bill. Or you can even use this to convert a certain number of miles into kilometers.
The famous pilot watch; the Breitling Navitimer, comes with a Slide Rule Bezel. Check out how it works in the video below.
Watch Bezel Comparison Chart
Here is an overview of all of the different types of watch bezels, and what each of them are used for.
|Type of Bezel||What does it look like?||What is it used for?|
|Plain Bezel||Stationary, does not move||To secure the watch crystal to the case|
|Dive Bezel||Grooved, chunky, 60 minute markings||Dive timer|
|Count Up Bezel||Counts up : 0 – 60 minutes||Easy dive timer|
|Countdown Bezel||Counts down : 60 – 0 minutes||Traditional, more complicated dive timer|
|GMT Bezel||24 hour scale||Read the time in more than one timezone|
|Tachymeter Bezel||Speed scale||Measures the speed of a car or motorbike|
|Telemeter Bezel||Distance scale||Calculates the distance to remote objects|
|Decimal Bezel||Scale of 0 to 100||Converts time to decimal time|
|Compass Bezel||Direction markings||Calculates approximate direction|
|Yacht-Timer Bezel||Countdown scale on the bezel||Countdown for regatta races|
|Pulsometer Bezel||Scale of 40 to 200||Measures someone’s heart rate|
|Slide Rule Bezel||Two rings, with many numbers and lines on them||Many different types of measurements|
Now that you know what the top 10 different types of watch bezels are. Why not take your knowledge further and read another one of our watch 101 guides.
Learn more here.