Bezels Explained: Understanding the Purpose on a Watch

In the video titled “Bezels Explained,” part of the series called The Classroom by WatchBox Studios, the host, Michael Michaels, who is a master watchmaker, shares his knowledge about bezels on watches. He explains what a bezel is and its purpose, and discusses different types of bezels such as smooth, fluted, engine turn, diamond, and segmented. Michaels also shares some of his personal favorite examples of bezels, and encourages viewers to comment with their own favorites. The video concludes with a reminder to like and subscribe, providing a comprehensive understanding of bezels on watches.

Bezels on watches can be both decorative and functional, going around the crystal of the watch. They can have various functions, such as tachymeter, calculator, or time zone adjustment. Fixed bezels can be decorative or have specific functions like telemeter or pulse meter. On the other hand, rotating bezels, primarily found in GMT and dive watches, are used to time dives and decompression. Bezels can be made from a range of materials like steel, precious metal, ceramic, and carbon fiber. The construction of bezels varies by brand, with each brand having its own unique approach. The article highlights the importance of personal preference in selecting watches with specific bezel types for different activities.

What is a bezel?

Definition of a bezel

A bezel on a watch is defined as the portion that surrounds the crystal and can be either decorative or functional. It can be made from various materials and comes in different types and styles.

The purpose of a bezel on a watch

The purpose of a bezel on a watch is to serve both aesthetic and functional purposes. In terms of aesthetics, it adds an extra element of style to the watch and can enhance its overall appearance. Functionally, bezels can have various purposes such as marking time, timing events, or providing additional information.

Different types of bezels

There are several different types of bezels used in watches. Some common examples include smooth bezels, fluted bezels, engine turn bezels, diamond bezels, and segmented bezels. Each type offers a unique look and style to the watch.

How do bezels work?

Explanation of bezel mechanics

Bezels work by either being fixed or rotating. Fixed bezels are decorative and do not move, while rotating bezels can be adjusted to perform certain functions such as timing events or measuring distances. The mechanics of a bezel depend on its design and purpose within the watch.

Watches that use bezels and their functions

Many different watches utilize bezels in their design. For example, GMT watches use a bi-directional rotating bezel to track multiple time zones. Dive watches often have a unidirectional rotating bezel to time dives and decompression. Bezels can also be found in chronograph watches, where they can be used to measure speed or distance.

Rolex’s contribution to bezel design

Rolex has made significant contributions to bezel design in the watch industry. They were the first to introduce the idea of indexes on the bezel, which allowed for a second reference of time. This innovation opened up a world of possibilities for bezel functionality in subsequent watch designs.

Examples of bezels

Michael Michaels’ favorite examples

In the video, Michael Michaels shares some of his personal favorite examples of bezels. While tastes may vary, he highlights the beauty and functionality of these bezels and explains why they stand out to him.

Encouraging viewer comments on favorite bezels

Viewers are encouraged to comment on their own favorite examples of bezels. This engagement further promotes the discussion around bezels and allows for different perspectives and preferences to be shared.

Types of bezels

Smooth bezels

Smooth bezels offer a clean and minimalist look to a watch. They have a sleek and polished design without any additional decorations or features.

Fluted bezels

Fluted bezels have a series of serrated cuts along their edges, giving them a unique and textured appearance. This style originated from Rolex and has become iconic in the world of luxury watches.

Engine turn bezels

Engine turn bezels feature intricate patterns that resemble engine-turned metalwork. These designs are achieved by engraving or embossing the metal to create a decorative and visually appealing texture.

Diamond bezels

Diamond bezels incorporate diamonds or other gemstones into their design, adding a touch of luxury and elegance to the watch. These bezels are highly sought after for their stunning and eye-catching appearance.

Segmented bezels

Segmented bezels consist of multiple sections with different colors or materials. This type of bezel adds visual interest and can create a unique and dynamic look for the watch.

Functions of bezels

Decorative purposes

Some bezels are purely decorative and serve to enhance the overall appearance of the watch. They can feature intricate designs, patterns, or precious materials that add a touch of luxury and style.

Bezels with telemeter function

Certain bezels have a telemeter function, which allows the wearer to measure the distance of a sound source based on the speed of sound. This can be useful in various situations, such as determining the distance of a lightning strike.

Bezels with pulse meter function

Bezels with a pulse meter function can be used to measure a person’s heart rate. This is achieved by timing the number of pulse beats within a certain timeframe indicated by the bezel markings.

Rotating bezels for GMT and dive watches

Rotating bezels are commonly found in GMT and dive watches. GMT bezels enable the wearer to track multiple time zones, while dive watch bezels are used for timing dives and decompression.

Timing dives and decompression with dive watch bezels

Dive watch bezels have specific markings that allow divers to time their dives and monitor their decompression stops. By aligning the bezel with the minute hand, divers can easily keep track of their elapsed dive time.

Bezels with tachymeter function

Bezels with a tachymeter function are used to measure speed over a fixed distance. By starting the chronograph and stopping it at a certain point, the wearer can determine their speed based on the tachymeter scale on the bezel.

Bezels with calculator function

Some bezels have built-in calculators that allow for quick and convenient calculations. These bezels can be used for tasks such as tip calculations, unit conversions, or other mathematical calculations.

Bezels for time zone adjustment

Certain watches feature bezels that can be used for adjusting the time zone. By rotating the bezel to align with the desired time zone, the wearer can quickly and easily switch between different time zones without needing to adjust the hands.

Types of materials used for bezels

Steel bezels

Steel bezels are commonly used in watches due to their durability and versatility. They offer a classic and timeless look that complements various watch styles.

Precious metal bezels

Precious metal bezels, such as gold or platinum, are often used in luxury watches to add a touch of luxury and exclusivity. These materials elevate the overall aesthetic of the watch and are highly sought after by collectors.

Ceramic bezels

Ceramic bezels are known for their durability, scratch resistance, and color stability. They are often used in sports watches and are available in a wide range of colors.

Carbon fiber bezels

Carbon fiber bezels offer a lightweight and modern look to watches. They are highly resistant to external factors and can withstand high levels of impact and stress.

Construction of bezels

Different bezel construction methods

Bezels can be constructed using various methods depending on the brand and watch design. Some common construction methods include using separate metals for the bezel and case, creating a two-tone effect. Other methods involve using a single piece of metal for the bezel, or incorporating additional materials such as sapphire covers.

Rolex’s single-piece metal bezel

Rolex is known for its single-piece metal bezels, which are extremely durable and strong. These bezels are made from a solid piece of metal, ensuring longevity and resistance to wear and tear.

Blanc Pine’s oversized bezels with sapphire cover

Blanc Pine is known for its oversized bezels that offer a bold and distinctive look. These bezels often feature a sapphire cover, providing added protection and a high level of transparency.

Choosing watches based on bezel preferences

Personal preference in selecting bezel types

Choosing a watch with a specific bezel type often comes down to personal preference. Some individuals may prefer the sleek and minimalist look of a smooth bezel, while others might gravitate towards the elegance of a diamond bezel. It is important to consider one’s own style and preferences when selecting a watch.

Matching bezel types to different activities

Different activities may call for specific bezel types. For example, a diver may opt for a dive watch with a unidirectional rotating bezel to accurately time their underwater activities. On the other hand, a frequent traveler may find a GMT watch with a bi-directional rotating bezel more suitable for tracking multiple time zones. It is important to consider the functionalities and features of various bezel types when choosing a watch for specific activities.


Bezels play an integral role in both the design and functionality of watches. Whether they are purely decorative or have specific functions, bezels enhance the overall appearance and utility of a timepiece. From smooth bezels to diamond-set bezels, there is a wide range of options to suit every individual’s style and preferences. By understanding the mechanics and purposes of different bezel types, watch enthusiasts can make informed choices when selecting their next timepiece.