Know your watch: Do you know how to use the bezel?
Let’s say you bought one incredible Formula 1 inspired watch from our collection, but are a little lost as to how to properly use all its functions, apart of knowing the time of day, that is. That’s normal. After all, almost every modern-day designed watch has an array of functionalities, dials and scales engraved unto them that may confuse people who aren’t exactly familiar with them. But fret not, because we’re here to teach you how to squeeze every ounce of utility of that amazing F1 timepiece you got as a Christmas present for yourself.
Let’s start by asking what kind of things can you measure with that fancy racing watch of yours. Well, for starters, you can use it to time a dive, or, more appropriately, a racing lap, or also take a pulse or calculate the remaining fuel in your car, among a lot of other things. I can see you starting to wonder how exactly can you do it. Hang on because we’re about to elaborate, but first...
What’s even a bezel?
A bezel is a ring surrounding the face of a watch (which is usually made from sapphire glass). Usually made from gold, or stainless steel, and that can be adorned with little jewels. In the case of sport watches, the bezel tends to have calibration marks and the ability to turn in one or two directions. Their main purpose is to hold the sapphire glass covering the front part of the watch.
How many types of bezels are there?
Sports watches (and watches in general) have several kinds of bezels, namely:
This kind of bezel only rotates in one direction (counterclockwise). It’s commonly used for diving. Their scale goes from 0 to 60 around the bezel, aligning with the minutes on the watch. Normally, these have the first 15 to 20 minutes are marked in 1-minute increments while the rest of the bezel is marked in 5-minutes increments. The rotate counterclockwise only to avoid running out of air during a dive.
These are similar to count-up bezels, but their minute track is reversed: They go from
60 to 0. This is to set the remaining time left before or during a determinate event.
The tachymeter bezel is a really useful gizmo on your wrist companion. It’s used to measure units per time increments. The most common use for this is measuring distance traveled or speed in mph or kmph, but you can also calculate things like pitches per hour on a baseball game, or the average rate of any other repeating event. We did a full article on how to use a tachymeter watch HERE
Some specialized watches (namely, medical ones) have this function on their bezels. This is a specially calibrated kind of tachymeter that is used to determine heart rate. To use it, you just start the chronograph timer and count the heartbeats until you get to the number for which the scale is calibrated. Stop the timer and read the heart rate in beats per minute.
Also similar to the tachymeter is the telemeter, but instead of calculating speed, this calculates the distance for an event that can be seen and heard. This was first designed for soldiers to calculate the distance of enemy fire, but today you can use it to determine how far is that thunderstorm looming on the horizon, for example. To use it you just start the chronograph watch timer when you see a flash and stop it the moment you hear the thunder clap, and thus you will calculate the distance in miles or kilometers on the scale.
The GMT bezel truly shines when it comes to travels, as it can track a second time zone and a local time. The normal hour hand you use for local time with a second 24-hour hand to line up with the hour on the rotating bezel. The bezel is often in two colors representing day and night. To use it, set the hour that the bezel marks opposite the 24- hour hand for the time zone you want to track.
Well, that’s exactly what this bezel is. To use it, rotate the compass bezel until the south mark is halfway between the hour hand and 12 o’clock. Point the hour hand at the sun and use the bezel to determine cardinal points (you know, north, south, east and west). Reset it about once every hour.
- Slide rule
This is one of the most complicated types of bezel. The slide rule is at its core, just two matching logarithmic scales, one stationary and one on a rotating outer ring. This allows the wearer of the watch to perform mathematical operations. You can use this bezel to handle all sorts of navigational calculations, ranging from airspeed, to rate/time of climb descent. This is one is found on pilot and racing watches.
Now that you better understand your bezel, you’re sure to use it as intended and fully seize the potential of your sports watch design.