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The Different Types of Watch Bezel Explained by Extropian

Watch bezel
GMT bezel
12 hour bezel
Yacht-Timer bezel
Slide Rule bezel
Echo Neutra
Melbourne Watch Co
The Different Types of Watch Bezel Explained by Extropian

Whether functional or purely decorative, the bezel is an essential part of any watch. Not only is it a key design element, it’s also what allows many tool watches to carry out their specific functions. We’re going to have a look at the most common types and let you know exactly what they do!


What is the Bezel on a watch?

The bezel is basically a ring that surrounds the watch crystal, usually made of the same material as the watch case itself (so it’s most commonly metal but can be anything from ceramic to forged carbon). It can be fixed in place or rotated, either unidirectionally or both ways, to perform a variety of functions.

 It works in conjunction with a Bezel Insert, which is a circular part that fits into the bezel, and is often made of a different material, such as ceramic, aluminum, bakelite, or sapphire. The Bezel Insert is printed or engraved with a range of markers which allow the watch to carry out whatever task it was designed for.

 Let’s check out the most important variations…



Plain bezels don’t move at all and include no functional markings. They come in all shapes and sizes, from a very minimalist aesthetic to chunky designs with visible screws (like the iconic Royal Oak). Some even come encrusted with precious jewels. In other words, a Plain bezel is often anything but!

Dufrane - Divers Watches, The Barton Springs

Dufrane Divers Watches the Barton Springs Blue Sunburst   Date 8ef5

❤️ Extropian loves the minimalist simplicity of this brushed steel bezel.


Dive Count-Up

The Dive bezel is an essential part of any dive watch as it’s used to calculate how much time a diver has underwater. The Count-Up bezel is engraved with a 60mn. At the beginning of a dive, the diver aligns the minute hand with the zero marker, and then they can easily read off the time they’re spent underwater as the hand moves round.

Doxa - Sub 200 Stainless Steel

Doxa Sub 200 Stainless Steel Caribbean 9d75

❤️ Simple, functional, and deeply cool - we adore this modern diver!


Dive Countdown

The Countdown bezel acts in the same way as the Count-Up, but the other way around. In other words, instead of counting up from 0-60mn, it counts down from 60-zero.

Raven - Solitude

Raven Solitude All Black Dial – Pepsi Bezel F327

❤️ Ooh, check out the iconic red-blue combo on this classic count-down bezel!


GMT/World Time

The GMT is one of the most useful types of bezel, as it allows you to track the time in different time-zones. A GMT watch has a second hour hand (usually with a different shape and color) that runs at half the speed of the main hand and points to 24-hour markers on the bezel.

You can set the local time on the regular 12-hour dial and use the GMT hand to indicate the time at home (or vice-versa). You can even track a third time zone by rotating the bezel backwards or forwards by the appropriate number of hours. Many GMT bezels have a two-tone design (red for day, blue for night) to help keep track of the difference between AM and PM.

Formex - Automatic Chronometer 300m Reef GMT (24H)

Formex Automatic Chronometer 300m Reef Gmt White C3 Nt


❤️ Built for travel - this no-nonsense GMT bezel is ideal for the adventurous globetrotter!

Boldr - Globetrotter GMT (Worldtimer)

Boldr Globetrotter Gmt Meteoblue 6951

❤️ Wherever you’re headed, this funky GMT bezel will make sure you don’t lose track of time!


12 Hour

The 12 Hour bezel allows you to track the time in a different time zone without a GMT watch. Simply align the hour markers on the bezel to correspond to the time difference you want to check. Eg; if you’re in Paris and want to check the time back home in LA (which is nine hours behind), rotate the bezel nine clicks to the right. You can then read the local time where the hands are pointing on the dial and the time back home where they’re pointing on the bezel.


Melbourne Watch Co - Fitzroy

Melbourne Watch Co Fitzroy Auto Green 6937



The Tachymeter is a fixed bezel used in conjunction with a chronograph watch. First used on motor racing watches they have ascending markers running counterclockwise around the edge, which allows the wearer to calculate speed in comparison with elapsed time. This means you can instantly find out, for example, how quickly you cover a mile, or how far you’ve traveled in a set time.

Radcliffe - Haxel Chronograph

Radcliffe Haxel Chronograph Midnight Blue E213

❤️ Feeling the need for speed? This classy chronograph has you covered!



Like a Tachymeter, a Telemeter bezel works in conjunction with a chronograph, but is used to calculate distance instead of speed.

Echo Neutra - Cortina 1956 Chronograph

Echo Neutra   Cortina 1956 Chronograph

❤️ Extropian really digs the cool retro stylings of this telemeter chrono!


Yacht Timer

The Yacht-Timer bezel was specifically designed to track amounts of time while at sea and to sync with race start times during yachting regattas. This sounds like a pretty specialized function, but don’t worry – it can just as easily be used for timing anything, from different kinds of races to boiling an egg!

Boldr - Odyssey 45 Regatta

Boldr Odyssey 45 Regatta (black) 17b9



Norqain - Adventure Neverest 40MM

Norqain Adventure Neverest 40 Mm Night Sight 7742

❤️ We’re sure we’d  never lose our way with this handy compass bezel on our wrist!

A Compass bezel is just what it implies. The points of the compass are engraved on the bezel, so you can rotate it to establish which direction you’re heading in. It’s not 100% accurate, but a useful back-up for hikers and other adventurous types!


Slide Rule

Perhaps the most complex-looking type of bezel, the Slide Rule has two mathematical scales, one on the rotating outer bezel and the other on the perimeter of the dial itself. Used in conjunction with one another, they allow the wearer to make any number of useful calculations, such as multiplication and division, converting miles to kilometers, calculating airspeed, and so on.


And there we have it – the most common types of bezel and what they do. Yes, we know many of their functions can be carried out by other types of electronic devices these days. But none of them are going to have the old school charm of a bezel!

Created the 2023-04-13

Modified the 2024-02-09

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