How Does a Rotating Watch Bezel Work? Detailed

How does a Rotating Watch Bezel Work?

Today’s topic of discussion is how does a rotating watch bezel work? The rotating bezels look great. With a range of colors and stunning complications that are engraved or painted onto their surface, it’s evident that they provide amazing aesthetic appeal.

However, a large portion of those who have and wear watches with luxury features that feature rotating bezels do not know the mechanisms or how to utilize them.

The bezels rotate to assist in measuring everything from time for diving to regattas. Some like GMT bezels can be used in combination with an additional 24-hour hand to show a second time zone. A rotating bezel can dramatically enhance the capabilities of a wristwatch.

Therefore, we believe you need to know the mechanism behind rotating bezels to be able to begin making use of them in your everyday routine. So, let’s get started!

Concerning Bezels Rotating

A bezel is an outer ring made of metal (sometimes ceramic) that covers the watch’s face and its crystal. In most instances, the bezel will be situated on the outer part of the watch and is totally independent of internal movement.

Because it’s on the watch’s exterior, it allows the fundamental function of the timepiece’s movements to remain the same, permitting the wearer access to more information than only time, hours, and second of each day. This makes it possible for a watch with basic movements to provide advanced functions that are competitive.

The style of the bezel and the scales that are displayed on the bezel, Rotating bezels could be used for anything including timing dives showing secondary time zones.

RELATED TOPIC: How to change a pocket watch battery? 

Different types of rotating bezels

There are numerous rotating bezels, and the type of bezel will largely depend on the printed or engraved scale. The actual movement of the rotating bezels is unidirectional, bidirectional, and Ring Command (exclusive to Rolex).


As the name implies, bidirectional rotating bezels can turn clockwise and counterclockwise. This lets the wearer quickly determine how long has been spent or the amount of time remaining. In addition, some bidirectional bezels have hours instead of minute scales. This permits them to show an additional time zone rather than a display of the time elapsed.


How does a rotating watch bezel work? The bezels that rotate in Unidirectional rotation can only be rotated in one direction, usually counterclockwise and they usually have a scale that is graduated to minutes, not hours.

They were designed to protect the user, which was developed at the beginning of diving. The bezel’s unidirectional movement assures that if it is hit or thrown off-center, it will display that it’s been occupied for longer and not less, which is particularly useful when diving.

Ring Command

Ring Command bezels are only found on Rolex watches, but the same concept is seen on timepieces of other brands. Though they’re located on the exterior of the case Ring Command bezels are mechanically connected to internal movements inside their respective watches.

This means that turning them allows users to directly interact with the watch’s movements to allow more functions with no need to use additional buttons, pushers or positions for setting the crown.

The Workings Inside of Rotating Bezels

The beautiful bezels made of ceramic or metal it is usually several different components that join the bezel to the watch and give it its movement and function. The type of the bezel and the functions it comes with, the components may range from tiny leaf springs, to washers that are specialized, and they can differ dramatically from one watch to the next, even if the bezels of the two watches are identical in movement and function.

Historically, tiny springs have provided rotating bezels that rotate with their ratcheting actions and the unidirectional movement. On most recent versions of Rolex Submariner – the versions equipped with ceramic bezel inserts – the mechanism has been replaced with 4 spring-loaded rollers, the first angled on top to stop clockwise movement.

This new design provides better stability of motion as well as a more balanced resistance and the satisfying click that collectors love so much.

How does a rotating watch bezel work? Indicating the time elapsed using a unidirectional bezel is much simpler than you imagine and requires only some basic knowledge regarding how they are supposed to function. A unidirectional bezel you spin it counterclockwise until the zero point (unusually an inverted triangular) will be aligned to the minute hands.

As time goes by the minute hand moves across it, you will be able to check the amount of time in relation to the 60-minute scale displayed on the bezel.

Suppose a unidirectional bezel rotates happen to be accidentally knocked off or moved. In that case, it will show the amount of time that has been spent (rather that it has smaller), which can be very beneficial for various tasks.

For instance, wearing a unidirectional watch during scuba diving will overestimate the length of time you’ve been underwater for and can be a life-saving feature when you use the watch for calculating stops for decompression.

Every day, the unidirectional rotation of a timing bezel could be an effective feature. Suppose you use it to monitor the remaining time at a parking counter. In that case, an accidental movement could result in you returning to your car a little ahead of time and not return to your vehicle and receiving an unpaid parking ticket.

However a bidirectional rotating bezel may rotate in both directions; however, so long as they’re printed using a 60-minute elapsed time scale, their use will generally follow the same process.

Although they might not have the safety features built into the unidirectional rotating timing bezel, a bidirectional inclination can occasionally be more practical as it permits quicker matching with the minutes hand while utilized to track events.

RELATED TOPIC: How to remove links from a Citizen Watch?

How do you measure additional time Zones by Bezels that rotate?

Bezels that rotate to show additional time zones will be identified with 24-hour or 12-hour scales. Furthermore, most bezels designed to display the second time zone will have bidirectional movement, since there is no requirement to have the safety feature built-in provided by a unidirectional rotating bezel.

For bezels with rotating, graduated twelve-hour time scales, turn the bezel counterclockwise or clockwise the number of hours that correlates to the offset of the current zone of your time. If, for instance, you’re currently located in Los Angeles and are interested in keeping track of what time it is in New York City you can turn the bezel to ensure that the ‘3’ appears right over the twelve o’clock mark.

From here, you’ll be able to determine the time in the second location by comparing the hour hand’s position to the 12-hour scale of the bezel.

On the other hand, bezels that rotate that are calibrated for 24-hours are made to work with a watch’s 24-hour hand. The procedure of using a bezel that is 24-hour is similar to having one that has an hour scale, but in that you’ll refer to the position of the 24-hour hand against the scale displayed in the watch’s bezel and not the location of the standard 12-hour hand.

The most significant benefit of the 24-hour bezel is that it allows users to easily identify additional time zones having greater than the 12-hour differences since it doesn’t need any calculations to convert the time between AM and PM hours.

Watches with rotating Bezels Rolex

There are also those complex Ring Command bezels. They take some work to comprehend as they operate differently following the additional features available on the respective watches. Rolex only fits the Ring Command bezel on the two most complicated watches in its entire collection. In each instance, the bezel is designed and performs differently.

The Rolex Yacht-Master II, the Ring Command bezel is marked with a large scale of 0-10 and is used for setting the adjustable regatta timer for use before or during a race. But it is important to note that this Ring Command bezel on the Rolex Sky-Dweller follows the brand’s traditional fluted design and it’s not utilized for measuring time because it lacks an informational scale engraved or printed on it.

Final Lines

How does a rotating watch bezel work? In reality, it works with the winding crown to allow an easier setting procedure for both the second display of time zones and Sky-Dweller’s calendar complexity. Despite its impressive capabilities it is also a great way to set the Rolex Sky-Dweller’s awe-inspiring Caliber 9001 movement is a very simple task, and this feat is only possible because of the revolutionary Ring Command bezel.

Leave a Comment