Advanced Techniques for Mastering Dive Watch Bezels: A Comprehensive Guide

Advanced Techniques for Mastering Dive Watch Bezels: A Comprehensive Guide

A dive watch bezel is a rotating ring around the watch face that serves as a crucial tool for divers to track their time underwater. Its primary purpose is to allow divers to safely monitor their bottom time and plan decompression stops during a dive.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the intricacies of dive watch bezels, including their purpose, types, advanced techniques, and maintenance tips.

Definition and Function for the Dive Watch Bezels

The bezel is a ring of metal or ceramic that surrounds the watch crystal and secures it to the case. On dive watches, this bezel can rotate, typically in a unidirectional (counter-clockwise) direction. The bezel is marked with graduations, usually in 5 or 10-minute increments, and a luminous pip or triangle at the zero mark.

Before a dive, the diver aligns the bezel's zero marker with the minute hand. As time elapses underwater, the bezel's graduations indicate the elapsed bottom time. This allows divers to track their remaining air supply and plan for decompression stops, which are necessary to avoid decompression sickness (the bends) after extended dives.

Dive watches have two types of bezels: unidirectional and bidirectional. Unidirectional bezels only turn counter-clockwise, ensuring divers don’t accidentally extend their dive time, which is safer. Most modern dive watches use this design. Bidirectional bezels turn both ways, offering flexibility but increasing the risk of indicating more dive time than is safe, which was common in older models.

Dive watches have two types of bezels: unidirectional and bidirectional.

Dive Watch Bezel Usage and Calculations

Using a dive watch bezel is relatively straightforward, but divers must follow specific procedures to ensure accurate timekeeping and safety:

1. Before the Dive

Align the bezel's zero marker with the minute hand before entering the water.

Before the Dive Align the bezel's zero marker with the minute hand before entering the water.

2. During the Dive

As time elapses, the bezel's graduations indicate the elapsed bottom time. Divers can use this information to monitor their air consumption and plan for decompression stops if necessary.

use dive watch bezzel to indicate the elapsed bottom time.

3. Decompression Stops

If required, divers can reset the bezel to zero at the start of their ascent and use it to time their decompression stops accurately.

4. Safety Stop

Many dive protocols recommend a 3-5 minute "safety stop" at 15-20 feet (4.5-6 meters) before surfacing, even after relatively shallow dives. The bezel can be used to time this stop accurately.

5. Surface Interval Timing

After a dive, the bezel can be used to time the surface interval before the next descent, ensuring proper off-gassing of nitrogen from the body.

While modern dive computers have largely replaced the need for manual timekeeping, the dive watch bezel remains an essential backup tool and a hallmark of professional dive watches.

While dive watch bezels are primarily designed for diving, they can also be used for various other purposes beyond just tracking dive times. The rotating bezel, a key feature of dive watches, can be a versatile tool for timing and tracking various activities, both underwater and on land.

Credit: YouTube Channel - TudorWatch

Using Your Diver Watch as a Time Zone Tracker: A Simple Guide

Typically, it's a GMT watch's job to indicate a second time zone, as it's designed for this purpose. However, as we're exploring advanced techniques for diver watches, we'll show how they can also accomplish this task. There isn't much content on the internet explaining this method well, so after extensive research and watching numerous YouTube videos, I've created an easy-to-follow guide on how to use a diver watch to track multiple time zones.

The Basics: Understanding Your Diver Watch

First, let's look at what we're working with:

  1. Your diver watch has a rotating bezel with 12 markings, each representing an hour. (We're referring to the longer bars on the bezel; let's ignore the numbers for now. You can count 12 longer bar marks on the bezel, each representing an hour.)
  2. The watch face displays hours in a 12-hour format.
  3. The bezel typically moves in one direction (counterclockwise) for safety reasons.
Your diver watch has a rotating bezel with 12 markings, each representing an hour.

Setting Up Your DIY GMT Watch

Let's say you're in Tokyo and want to keep track of the time back home in London. Here's how to do it:

  1. Check the time difference. In our example, London is 8 hours behind Tokyo (accounting for daylight saving time).
  2. Rotate the bezel counterclockwise until the 12 o'clock marker (i.e., the big arrow on the bezel) lines up with the 8 on the watch face. In simpler terms, rotate the arrow on the outer bezel until it aligns with the 8-hour mark on the inner circle of the watch face.

Voila! You've just set up your diver watch to track London time.

Reading the Second Time Zone

Now we come to the crucial part: reading the time. The key is to focus on the hour hand!

If you've followed the guide above, let's say we're going to read the time in London now.

  1. The main watch hands show your current local time (Tokyo in our example).
  2. To check London time, look at where the hour hand points on the bezel. Yes, you're right – only check the hour hand (not the minute or second hand; I'll explain why later).
  3. To read the hour on the bezel, remember the 12 marks (long bar marks) we mentioned earlier. Imagine these as a normal watch face and read the hour hand accordingly.
  4. Read the minutes normally, as minute numbers are the same across different time zones.
  5. Put the hour and minute readings together.

In our example, if it's 12:20 PM in Tokyo, the hour hand will be pointing just past the 20-minute mark on the bezel. You'll read this as 4 hours, then add 20 minutes. This indicates that it's about 4:20 AM in London.

Pro Tips

  1. Remember, the minute hand stays the same for both time zones. Only the hours change.
  2. This method works best for full-hour time differences. For half-hour differences, you'll need to do a bit of mental math.

Time Zones Ahead of You or Behind You

For diver watches, the bezel can only rotate counterclockwise, so it's quite straightforward if you want to set the arrow to a position for a time zone ahead of you.

arrow to a position for a time zone ahead of you

For time zones ahead of you, let's say you want to set it 3 hours behind, you need to rotate the bezel counterclockwise all the way until it aligns with the 3-hour mark on the watch. You can't rotate it the other way due to the mechanism.

set the time zone for 3 hour behind

Wrapping Up

There you have it! Your diver watch can now double as a GMT watch. It might not be as fancy as a dedicated GMT timepiece, but it gets the job done.

Overall, this guide should be easy to follow. The only tricky part is remembering to read the hour hand on the bezel for the second time zone. You may need to practice a bit to get comfortable with it. But I think it's worth trying, especially if you travel frequently, as it's a cool and convenient feature to have on your diver watch.

Credit: YouTube Channel - Watch Guy

Advanced Techniques: Timing Other Activities (e.g., Cooking, Exercising)

While dive watch bezels are primarily designed for timing underwater activities, their versatility extends far beyond the depths of the ocean. You can use the rotating bezel to time various activities, such as cooking, exercising, or even monitoring parking meters. Here's how you can leverage your dive watch bezel for timing purposes:

1. Cooking:

  • When cooking, timing is crucial to achieve the perfect doneness and flavor.
  • Align the bezel marker with the minute hand at the start of the cooking process.
  • As the minute hand moves, the bezel markings will indicate the elapsed cooking time.
  • This technique is particularly useful for timing boiled eggs, steaming vegetables, or monitoring the baking time of cakes and pastries.
use dive watch bezzel for monitoring cooking time

2. Exercising:

  • Whether you're running, cycling, or performing interval training, the bezel can be an invaluable tool for timing your workouts.
  • Align the bezel marker with the minute hand at the start of your exercise session.
  • Use the bezel markings to track your intervals, rest periods, or overall workout duration.
  • This technique can help you maintain a consistent pace and ensure you're meeting your fitness goals.
use dive watch for monitoring the exercising time

3. Parking Meters:

  • In many cities, parking meters have time limits, and overstaying can result in costly fines.
  • When you park your car, align the bezel marker with the minute hand.
  • As time passes, the bezel markings will indicate how much time is remaining before you need to move your vehicle or refill the meter.
  • This simple trick can save you from unnecessary parking tickets and fines.
use dive watch bezzel for monitoring parking time


    Customizing Bezel Grip for Better Handling

    Dive watches are designed to withstand the rigors of underwater activities, and their bezels play a crucial role in their functionality. The bezel's grip and functionality can be enhanced to improve its usability, especially when wearing gloves or in wet conditions.

    The bezel grip refers to the texture or pattern on the bezel's surface that provides friction and grip for easy rotation. Manufacturers often use various techniques to enhance the bezel grip, such as knurling, coin-edging, or applying a high-friction material. However, some divers may find the stock bezel grip insufficient or uncomfortable, especially when wearing gloves or in wet conditions.


    Knurling is a process that creates a diamond-shaped pattern on the bezel's surface, providing excellent grip and traction. This technique is commonly used on dive watches from brands like Seiko, Citizen, and Orient. For example, the Seiko Prospex "Turtle" SRPC25K1 features a knurled bezel with a distinctive diamond pattern that offers superior grip, even when wet or wearing gloves.


    Coin-edging, also known as a coin-edge bezel, involves creating a series of grooves or ridges along the bezel's edge, similar to the ridges on a coin. This design provides a secure grip and allows for precise bezel rotation. Brands like Rolex, Omega, and Blancpain are known for their coin-edged bezels. The Rolex Submariner 126610LN, for instance, features a coin-edged bezel with a Cerachrom (ceramic) insert, offering excellent grip and durability.

    High-friction Materials

    Some manufacturers use high-friction materials, such as rubber or silicone, to enhance the bezel grip. These materials provide excellent traction and are often used in combination with knurling or coin-edging. The Seiko Prospex "Tuna" SBBN031 features a silicone bezel insert with a knurled pattern, ensuring a secure grip even in the most challenging conditions.

    Aftermarket Bezel Inserts

    For those seeking a more personalized bezel grip, aftermarket bezel inserts are available from various manufacturers. These inserts can be easily swapped with the original bezel, offering a range of textures and patterns to suit individual preferences. Companies like DLW Watches, Namoki, and Crystaltimes offer a wide selection of aftermarket bezel inserts for popular dive watch models.

    Tips for Using Bezels with Gloves

    Wearing gloves is often necessary during diving or other water-based activities, but it can make operating the bezel more challenging. Here are some tips to ensure smooth bezel operation while wearing gloves:

    1. Choose the Right Glove Material: Opt for gloves with a textured or high-friction material on the fingertips, such as rubber or silicone. This will provide better grip and control when rotating the bezel.

    2. Adjust Glove Fit: Ensure that your gloves fit snugly but not too tightly. Loose gloves can make it difficult to grip and rotate the bezel accurately.

    3. Use Proper Technique: When rotating the bezel with gloves, use your thumb and index finger to grip the bezel firmly. Apply gentle but consistent pressure, and avoid jerky movements that could cause the bezel to slip or become misaligned.

    4. Consider Bezel Design: Watches with larger, more pronounced bezels or those with knurled or coin-edged patterns tend to be easier to operate with gloves. Bezels with smooth surfaces or minimal texturing may be more challenging to grip.

    Unidirectional vs. Bidirectional Bezels

    There are two main types of rotating bezels found on dive watches:

    Dive watches come with two main types of rotating bezels: unidirectional and bidirectional. Unidirectional bezels, which only turn counter-clockwise, are designed to prevent accidentally extending dive time, ensuring safety by prompting divers to surface earlier if the bezel is moved. Most modern dive watches, like the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster, use this safer design.

    On the other hand, bidirectional bezels can rotate both ways, offering more flexibility but posing a higher risk of indicating more dive time than is safe. These were common in older models, such as vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and some Doxa watches, before the unidirectional bezel became the norm, also the bidirectional bezels can always be seen on the GMT watches.

    Discover Lesser-Known Features of Dive Watch Bezels

    While grip is essential for bezel operation, enhancing its functionality can also improve the overall diving experience. Here are some features and considerations related to bezel functionality:

    Bezel Locking Systems

    To prevent accidental bezel rotation, some dive watches feature bezel locking systems. These mechanisms secure the bezel in place, ensuring that it does not move unintentionally during diving or other activities. One example is the Rolex Submariner's Triplock system, which includes a triple gasket crown and a patented locking mechanism that secures the bezel in place. The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean also features a patented Naiad Lock system, which allows the bezel to be locked in place with a simple push-and-turn motion.

    Luminous Bezels

    In low-light or underwater conditions, visibility is crucial. Many dive watches feature luminous bezels, with markers or inserts coated with a luminescent material like Super-LumiNova or BGW9. This feature allows divers to easily read and track elapsed time, even in dark environments. The Seiko Prospex "Monster" SZSC003 is renowned for its highly legible luminous bezel, which glows brightly in low-light conditions, making it an excellent choice for night diving or cave exploration.

    Elapsed Time Bezel (ETB)

    Some dive watches incorporate an Elapsed Time Bezel (ETB), which allows divers to track multiple time intervals simultaneously. The ETB is typically a separate rotating ring or scale on the watch face, independent of the main bezel. This feature is particularly useful for tracking decompression stops or monitoring multiple dive segments during a single dive. The Citizen Promaster Aqualand BN2038-01L is an example of a dive watch with an ETB, enabling divers to track elapsed time and decompression stops with ease.

    Bezel Materials and Durability

    The material used for the bezel can significantly impact its durability and resistance to scratches, impacts, and corrosion. Common materials used for dive watch bezels include:

    • Stainless Steel: Durable and corrosion-resistant, stainless steel bezels are a popular choice for many dive watches. However, they can be prone to scratches and scuffs over time.
    • Ceramic: Ceramic bezels, such as Rolex's Cerachrom or Omega's Ceragold, are highly scratch-resistant and maintain their color and luster for extended periods. They are also resistant to fading and corrosion.
    • Sapphire: Sapphire bezels, like those found on the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, offer exceptional scratch resistance and durability. However, they are more expensive and can be prone to shattering if subjected to severe impacts.
    • PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) Coating: PVD coatings, such as DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon), can be applied to stainless steel or ceramic bezels to enhance their scratch resistance and durability.

    When choosing a dive watch, consider the bezel material and its suitability for your intended activities and environment.

    Final Thoughts

    If you found this article informative and helpful, please consider sharing it with your fellow divers, watch enthusiasts, or anyone who might benefit from learning about the fascinating world of dive watch bezels. We also encourage you to leave a comment below, sharing your own experiences, tips, or any questions you may have about dive watch bezels. Your feedback and engagement help us create better content and foster a community of knowledgeable and passionate individuals.Thank you for reading, and happy diving!

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