Dive watch bezels, how do you use these things?

A WatchGang Guide On How To Use A Diving Bezel

So, you’ve finally purchased your first dive watch, it’s out of the box and on your wrist…now what? What exactly is the purpose of these watches, except for looking cool? Well, besides telling time and maybe the day or date, most dive watches include a diving bezel, which is actually a really useful tool, in and out of the water.

A diving bezel is one of the signature characteristics of a dive watch. Its original purpose was to track a diver’s elapsed time under water and to help manage their air supply while at depth. Beginning in the 1950’s, this style of bezel began to be featured on dive watches and soon became an essential tool for sport divers around the world for decades to follow. Even with the widespread use of dive computers in the current day, divers continue to utilize dive watches as a supplemental back up in the case of emergencies.

At first glance, the function of a diving bezel may seem confusing. However, once you have the opportunity to learn and understand the basics of its functionality, it becomes quite simple to use. The following are the basic steps for adjusting a diving bezel for use:

  1. Prior to a diver’s descent, the 12 o’clock bezel marker is aligned with the minute hand.
  2. As time elapses, you should be able to tell from the position of the minute hand in relation to the numbers on the bezel how much time has gone by.
  3. When the total “bottom time” has been reached for the dive, the diver returns to the surface (assuming no decompression is needed).
Now that you know how to use your bezel, let’s dig a little deeper and explore the types of bezels that you may encounter along your journey of collecting watches. Generally, there are two types of dive watch bezels: External and Internal. The purpose of both types of bezels is essentially the same. However, their design, functionality and appearance are quite different from each other.
  • External bezels are what most people think of when a bezel in mentioned. They are an externally mounted ring that is mounted around the outside of the crystal of a watch. Most external bezels operate in a unidirectional manner for safety purposes and have a timing scale (count-down or count-up) marked around their circumference for timing purposes. Around the outside of the bezel, there are grips to make it easy for divers to set the dive time, even while wearing dive gloves.
  • Internal diving bezels are less common and a more recent innovation than their external counterparts. This style of bezels is mounted underneath the watch’s crystal and surround the watch dial in a manner similar to an external bezel. To make an adjustment, a second crown has been added to the watch that will typically rotate it in a bidirectional manner to set the dive time. Once this is completed, many watch models include a locking crown to ensure that the time cannot be inadvertently adjusted.
In addition to the different types of bezels, there are also a myriad of different designs for locking and adjusting the bezel that have been developed by various makers. We will not be covering these in detail in this article due to the vast amount of options available. It would take an entire series of articles to cover these, so we have provided you with the basics here and will let you explore the world of dive watches further on your own.So, now that you have read all of this and are saying to yourself “Great information…but I don’t dive!”. Well, that’s perfectly okay! A diving bezel can be used to time anything. I personally use it when I grill at home. I set it to the time that I need to flip my steaks! That way I cannot forget when to do it and my guests always get their meals perfectly cooked! There are many other applications…try using it yourself and see what you think!

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