What is a Bezel on a Watch?

What is a bezel on a watch

A bezel is a raised ring that surrounds the face of a watch. The bezel can be made of metal, plastic, or other materials. It is usually decorated with markings or numbers that help the wearer to track time. The bezel may also contain gems or other ornamental elements.

This guide from the experts at CALIBRE helps explain what bezels are, what they are used for and what they are made of.

How does a bezel work on a watch?

A bezel is a metal ring that goes around the edge of a watch face, and the way it works is fairly straightforward.

The purpose of a bezel is to protect the watch face from scratches and other damage. It can also help keep the glass face from breaking if the watch is dropped. Bezels can also be used to track time, as some watches have rotating bezels that can be turned to keep track of time in different time zones, or to set the 12 o’clock point to a different point of the dial.

The History of the Watch Bezel 

The watch bezel has been an integral part of wristwatch design since the 20th century. The example of a watch bezel was first introduced in the early 1950s and was made by Rolex and Blancpain. The first purpose of the bezel was to measure how long a diver had spent underwater. 

Early watches featured simple, unadorned bezels with no markings or features. However, over time different styles of bezels have emerged due to advancements in mechanical and quartz movements. Most notably, rotating bezels have become popular with pilots as they allowed them to measure elapsed time while flying planes. Today, this feature can still be found on many modern watches.

What are bezels made of?

Chronograph watch with dive bezel

The material used to make a bezel can vary, but is typically stainless steel, titanium, gold, or ceramic.

Bezels can be plain and unadorned, or they can be decorated with diamonds, gemstones, or other precious metals. Some watches even have what is known as a “coin edge” bezel, which has a raised edge that resembles the edge of a coin. The type of bezel you choose for your watch is purely a matter of personal preference.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is a common material for bezels due to the fact it is a corrosion-resistant metal that is also incredibly durable and it can be easily coated.


Aluminium is used for bezels because it provides quality resistance to corrosion, similar to steel.


Ceramic is favoured by many watchmakers due to how scratch-resistant it is, and how lightweight it is. It is also resistant to harsh environments.

What are the different types of bezels?

There are three main types of bezels: fixed, rotating, and slide rule. Fixed bezels cannot be moved; they are usually found on dress watches. Rotating bezels can be turned, either clockwise or counterclockwise. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of watch bezels:

The GMT bezel

Rolex with GMT bezel

GMT bezels are rotating bezels that feature 24-hour markings around the exterior. When rotated, this bezel allows you to tell the time in two time zones simultaneously.

The tachymeter bezel

Watch with tachymeter bezel

The main purpose of a tachymeter bezel is to measure speed over distance, converting seconds to speed, so you can work out how fast something is travelling over a fixed distance.

The slide rule bezel

Breitling watch with slide rule bezel

The slide rule bezel in simple terms is essentially two scales, one of which is stationary and one which rotates. By rotating the outer ring, you can work out multiplication and division sums.

Count-up and count-down bezels

Divers watch with count up bezel

A count-up bezel is most commonly known as a diving bezel and is one of the most commonly used. The scale counts up from 0-60, and measures elapsed time.

Similarly to the count-up, or diving bezel, the count-down bezel measures elapsed time, but this bezel counts down from 60-0. These bezels are also usually unidirectional.

Conclusion: Watch Bezels

Watch bezels provide many different functions due to the different forms they come in. Whether it’s a divers watch, a GMT or a different piece, bezels all boast unique purposes that provide not only function but style. Whilst not all watches have bezels, it’s important to understand what yours is for to get the most usability value out of your piece!