When it comes to the anatomy of a watch, you’re most likely already familiar with the dial, the strap, and maybe even the crown. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering about the bezel of a watch. This partly decorative, partly functional piece can have many different uses depending on the type of watch you have. So, if you want to know more about watch bezels, read on to find out more about them and their various functions.


Evolution of Watch Bezels 

The bezel of a watch sits on top of the watch case and around the edge of the crystal (the transparent covering over the dial that protects it from damage). The bezel can either be fixed or rotating and can feature a variety of markings or be plain. 


Originally, bezels were mostly practical and simply used to hold the crystal in place. Then, they became a decorative accent – another opportunity for embellishment. Nowadays, watch bezels have many different uses, and can be used in conjunction with the hands to act as a compass, a timer, or to keep track of how much time a diver has been underwater.  


The Different Types of Watch Bezels 

As time has gone on, watch bezels have become more and more useful in a variety of different ways. 



GMT watches allow you to simultaneously track time in different zones – particularly useful for seasoned travelers or expats. You use a GMT bezel in conjunction with the hands by rotating the bezel marker and setting the GMT hand to indicate the required time zone. This setup will keep track of both the local time and the second time zone simultaneously.

TW2V38200 Q Timex GMT 38mm Synthetic Rubber Strap Watch Primary Image



A compass bezel is extremely useful for adventurers and those who like nothing more than getting lost in the wilderness. The compass bezel of our Expedition North Tide-Temp-Compass watch has the four cardinal directions marked on it and can be used in conjunction with the bidirectional center hand to point you in the right direction.

To calibrate the compass on our Tide-Temp-Compass watch, follow these steps:

  1. Keeping the watch level, pull the crown to the middle position. If the watch band interferes, place the watch on an inverted cup. Alternatively, you may also place the watch face down, but take care to protect the watch face.
  2. Press the "compass" push button. The indicator hand rotates two revolutions to remind you to rotate the watch. While level, SLOWLY rotate watch two revolutions, taking at least 15 seconds per revolution. This is critical in achieving proper calibration.
  3. When you're done, continue keeping the watch level and press any push button. The indicator hand moves back and forth to acknowledge the end of calibration, and then moves to the current declination angle setting.
  4. If you do not wish to set the declination angle, push the crown in. Otherwise, to have the watch automatically compensate for the declination angle, turn the compass ring until north is at 12 o'clock. Press either the "tide" or "temp" push buttons to move the indicator hand east (+) or west (-) to point to your location's declination angle using the declination scale in our Product User Manual (available for download on the product page). Hold the push button to move the hand fast. Push the crown back in when done.




A tachymeter bezel, such as the one on our Q Timex Chronographis an example of a fixed bezel. When used in conjunction with the chronograph, the tachymeter index on the bezel can be used to calculate average speed, making it good for racing or determining how long it takes to travel between two points.


Rotating Dive & Dive-Inspired

Rotating bezels can be found on many types of watches but one of the most famous uses of a rotating bezel is on a diver’s watch, or a dive-inspired watch. On these watches, the bezel only rotates one way to ensure the user does not inadvertently move it in a negative direction which could be a safety hazard especially when diving.


Before a diver goes underwater, they can set their bezel to a specific time depending on the depth they are planning to reach. This lets them keep track of how long they have been underwater and how much oxygen is left in their tank. Our dive-inspired watches are equipped with these bezels for a truly nautical aesthetic.

 Red Tiburon Automatic with a red strap featured on a mans wrist in the water


Choosing the Right Bezel for Your Needs 

The bezel you ultimately choose will come down to your needs and meet both the functionality you require as well as your personal style. Do you prefer a simplistic and elegant look? Or do you need a tool that can keep up with you and your adventures?

First, consider your lifestyle. Whether you’re a swimmer who would benefit from a dive-inspired bezel, a keen adventurer who travels through different time zones and would make use of a GMT bezel, or an avid hiker who would make the most of a compass bezel, there is a style out there for your specific need.

Next, think about your aesthetic. Some watches are sleek and minimalistic. Other designs are filled to the brim with useful features. Your watch should reflect your personal style so you can enjoy wearing it every day.

The material of your timepiece should also be taken into consideration. If you expect your watch will need to put up with a grueling workout, you need a watch that’s built to keep up with you. Additionally, if you are looking to style your watch on special occasions or simply plan to wear it to work, it won’t need to be as rugged. But no matter what you choose, a Timex watch can keep up and last a lifetime.  


Key Takeaway 

Watch bezels have come a long way since their first introduction in the 1930s. They have evolved from being purely functional accents into more complex designs with features that can be used in many different ways. A rotating bezel on a watch can be used for all sorts of different tasks from tracking your location in the world to keeping time on your new personal best and beyond. Alternatively, a decorative bezel can simply act as an aesthetic addition to your personal style.  

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