What is the purpose of a watch bezel?

Updated April 17, 2017

The purpose of a watch bezel is both functional and decorative. A watch bezel is the frame around the face of a watch that may or may not hold the clear glass or crystal covering in place. The watch bezel is normally made from the same metal as the watch case. Watches can be made out of stainless steel, gold, silver, painted gold tone metal or painted silver tone metal. There are several types of watch bezels, each serving a specific purpose.

Decorative Watch Bezels

The decorative watch bezel can be found on many types of watches, from those sold at discount stores to those found at high-end luxury stores. These bezels may be plain and made out of the same metal as the watch case and band, or they can have an engraved pattern on them such as Roman numerals or stripes.

Gemstones are highly desired accents for decorative watch bezels. Many jewellers set small diamonds or semiprecious stones such as amethysts on the bezel of a watch. Watch bezels also can be made out of enamel or different colours of metal.

Some watches have interchangeable watch bezels that twist on and off with ease. This is a great way to match one's watch bezel to an outfit or mood.

Unidirectional Rotating Watch Bezel

The unidirectional rotating watch bezel serves an important function on diving watches. It is an elapsed time rotating watch bezel that can only be moved in a counterclockwise direction. This type of watch bezel prevents a diver from losing track of time when underwater. The unidirectional watch bezel can be set to tell the diver how much time he has until his tank runs out of air. The watch bezel is designed to lock into place so that it cannot be accidentally knocked out of place. It can be set to track either seconds or minutes according to the diver's preference.

Bidirectional Watch Bezel

The purpose of the bidirectional watch bezel, also known as a tachymeter, is to track speed or elapsed time. This watch bezel can be turned clockwise or counterclockwise. The bidirectional watch bezel can track a runner's average speed or the distance she has travelled. This watch bezel also can be turned to track elapsed time from a starting point to a finish line.

Adanac Watch Bezel

Adanac watch bezels are perfect for people who travel or need to keep track of time in different time zones. The adanac watch bezel can track two time zones at the same time. For example, the watch can be set to Eastern Standard Time and the watch bezel can be set on Pacific Standard Time. The adanac watch bezel also can be used as a timer to track how long it takes to go from point A to point B. The adanac watch bezel is military issue and was developed by the Canadian military. (Adanac is Canada spelt backwards.) It is also used by the U.S. military.

Watch Bezel Care

Watch bezels should be cleaned once every two weeks. Jewellery stores sell watch-cleaning kits which normally contain a cleaning solution, soft brush and cleaning cloth. For a more cost-effective cleaning solution, use mild liquid dish soap and an old, soft-bristle toothbrush. Don't use a lot of water on the watch bezel while cleaning it because not all watches are water resistant.

Avoid using a toothbrush if the watch bezel has gemstones. A soft cloth with mild liquid dish soap can be used on and around gemstones on the watch bezel.

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About the Author

Cathy O'Brien is a San Francisco/Bay Area native. She has 15 years of experience writing corporate training materials. Her corporate background is in human resources, sales, management and high-tech start-ups. O'Brien has published business and fashion articles on eHow and Answerbag. She earned her Master of Business Administration from Dominican University and her Bachelor of Arts in English/writing from the University of San Francisco.