Watch Bezel Basics Part 1: All You Need To Know

Watch bezels are the frames that encase and protect the watch face. They come in various materials, such as stainless steel, gold, and ceramic, and can be decorated with stones and gems. The bezel can also be engraved with words, symbols, or designs for a unique look.

The watch bezel can be a statement piece, adding a touch of style and flair to your favourite timepiece. However, it can also be functional by providing a place to display information such as elapsed time, a tachymeter, or a bezel rotation to select different functions.

Origins of the Watch Bezel

The origins of the watch bezel are lost to time. Nobody knows which watchmaker first had the idea of adding a ring atop the watch face to protect it and keep the other components in place. However, its evolution is highly evident in the range of materials, shapes and styles today.

Early bezels were made of brass or silver and were often decorated with engravings or symbols. Watchmakers began experimenting with different materials such as gold, platinum, and stainless steel as the centuries progressed.

The invention of the rotating bezel in the early 20th century allowed watches to feature an array of functions, such as elapsed time, tachymeter, and a rotating selection of functions. By the mid-20th century, watch bezels had become an essential part of the watch, with various styles and materials available.

3 Types of Bezels Explained

There are many types of bezels used in different types of watches today. However, all of them can be grouped roughly into three categories. Here are the three main types of watch bezels and how they are used today.

1. Fixed Bezel

Fixed bezels are stationary and do not rotate. They are typically used for decorative purposes like framing a gemstone or watch face. They are usually made of solid metal, plastic, or ceramic materials.

2. Unidirectional Bezel

The primary purpose of unidirectional bezels is to ensure accuracy when measuring time. A unidirectional bezel is designed to have a secure ratcheting system that allows it to move in a single direction, usually counter-clockwise. This prevents the bezel from being moved by accident, preserving the accuracy of the set time. Unidirectional bezels also prevent the accidental resetting of a timer or stopwatch, ensuring accurate measurement of elapsed time. 

The most popular application of a unidirectional bezel is on dive watches, which measure the amount of time a diver has been underwater. Before the dive begins, the bezel is rotated to line up the zero markers with the minute hand. The diver can quickly and accurately read the elapsed time by looking at the bezel as time passes.

3. Bidirectional Bezel

This type of bezel is designed to rotate in both directions. It is mainly used for timing and to measure elapsed time, as well as for navigation and other calculations. Pilot watches often have bidirectional bezels because pilots need to quickly and accurately calculate their flight times, headings, and other navigational calculations. 

Bidirectional bezels are also used on clocks and dive watches to measure elapsed time. Unlike unidirectional bezels, bidirectional bezels can set a specific time and measure elapsed time.


Watch bezels are essential to a watch, as they protect the watch crystal and add to its overall look and functionality. They come in various materials and styles, from classic to modern and can be customised to suit any taste. With the right bezel, a watch can be transformed into a timeless and stylish accessory.

Browse Seiko Mods today and explore our selection of premium Seiko watch parts and accessories. Whether you’re looking for a classic bezel or a modern one, we have it all. With our fast and reliable delivery, you can get your desired watch part in no time. Shop now and get the perfect bezel for your watch!

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