Rotating Bezel Watches
The watch was one of the best inventions the world had seen, after the clock. The first example of a watch came about in the 1700s, in Germany. What was known as a watch then has developed a lot. Furthermore, a lot of technology has been injected. In fact, if you like smartwatches, you’ll know that the last feature to boast about them is the fact that they tell time.
Not long after the watch was invented it was obvious that the watch was going to be an invaluable tool as it was so convenient, being on the wrist. So it was also clear that watches were going to become very advanced pieces of kit.
In the development of the watch, the rotating bezel came about.
We’ll look at why a watch has a rotating bezel. We’ll also explain what one actually is.
What is a rotating bezel?
This is an integral part of a dive watch. In fact, it’s probably the most important part of all. It’s what differentiates it from a classic watch.
The bezel is a disc that sits on the outside of the dial. It has 60 divisions to represent 60 minutes. It can be moved – rotated – so the zero marker is aligned to the 12 position. Those 60 minute markers around the bezel outline an hour, which represents how long a standard scuba tank of oxygen will last.
How is this bezel used?
Before going into the water, a diver will place an arrow on the bezel at the 12 position on the watch.
As you now know, there are 60 divisions and it can go from 0 to 60 or vice versa. It works the same either way. The goal is to let the diver know how many minutes have passed since the start of their dive. They can see how many minutes are left to enjoy the dive with sufficient oxygen left in the tank to resurface.
The time a diver gets under the water is really key to know. After the optimal time has passed, there is a risk of the body absorbing nitrogen. Once this process begins in the body, things get a little complicated. The diver can’t begin an ascent and must wait a given amount of time and be at a particular depth to decompress that nitrogen in the body.
Sensible divers know this and have what’s known as the “120” rule that prescribes an optimal time, in minutes, that a diver may spend at a given depth. This is worked out as 120 minus the depth. For example, say a diver goes on a 70 foot dive their bezel will indicate a no-decompression max as 30 minutes.
If the diver goes over this time, they have to then stay under for longer as it requires a much slower ascent. A dive should be carefully planned to allow for time, depth and oxygen levels. You’ll typically find the first 15 minutes on a bezel are highlighted.
Bit of background
The first rotating bezel made an appearance on a dive watch in the 50s. It came out of need rather than development of a nice-to-have. Divers needed to track their time at depth and wanted this function on a water-resistant watch.
Rolex did attempt a similar bezel design in the 30s but it left some development to be desired. Blancpain came along in the early 50s and launched a much more functional bezel.
Blancpain actually introduced the uni-directional rotating bezel which solved the issue where a bezel could easily be knocked out of place. When that happened, it posed a potentially fatal risk to the diver who no longer knew how much time was left and would have to resurface out of precaution.
The 60s saw the bezel move underneath the protective crystal in order to keep it safe from this accidental movement. An additional crown was added and boom, the dive watch became a ‘thing’ in its own right.
A brand called Doxa soon introduced a no-decompression marking on the bezel. This differed from time markings and Doxa developed this further and ended up making dive computers rather than watches.
In the 70s, Omega stepped up to the plate with their Plongeur Professionel which had a thickset case with a button on the side which had to be pushed in order to allow the bezel to be moved.
Different features have been played with over time, some have lasted, some proved unworthy, but the bezel has basically stayed the same.
These days we have much smarter technology that can digitally store and display all the information one might need on a dive, but the smart divers will keep a watch on their wrist as a contingency against technological failure.
For $375.00 you can get this analogue quartz Navy SEAL dive watch. The quartz movement is Swiss and it offers sapphire crystal protection, which is incredible value at this price. The case isn’t too chunky at only 43mm and as well as the rotating bezel it offers the day, date and even moon phase.
It’s water-resistant to 200m which means, if you’re a beginner diver, this will suit you perfectly.
Hopefully, you’ve learned something useful. If you want to continue reading about what Luminox has to offer, we have a review right here.
You may also be interested in this article about the latest Seiko Dive Watch