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How to Use Dive Watch Bezels: A Simple and Thorough Guide

How to Use Dive Watch Bezels: A Simple and Thorough Guide

Everything you need to know on how to use dive watch bezels to best maximize your time wearing these powerful diving timepieces.
Mar 20, 2024

A dive watch as a utility tool is famed and reliable for use not only in water but also when it’s dry. The trick to utilizing it to its maximum potential is to know how to use a dive watch bezel. A bezel is the outer ring part of a watch surrounding the crystal. They usually feature numbers or other markings with some having rotating abilities.

Bezels on dive watches twist for a crucial reason. These timepieces were initially built in the 1950s to aid the contemporary sport of the period, scuba diving. Divers need to keep track of the time as they have a limited amount on their oxygen tanks to help with breathing underwater. The bezels used for dive watches are typical of the “count up” type.

Other types of bezels include a pulsometer, countdown, GMT, tachymeter, a telemeter slide rule, and more. These types are usually present in utility timepieces such as military, pilot, and sports watches. Don’t worry, this article will cover specifically on how to read dive watch bezels of the count-up type. Read on to find out.

A Brief Intro to Dive Watch Bezels

To understand how to use a dive watch bezel is knowing that they typically rotate in one way and counterclockwise. You might ask yourself why a unidirectional rather than a bidirectional bezel seems like a more useful tool. This is because a two-way twisting bezel may cause danger when used underwater.

One common mishap in how to use dive watch bezels is accidentally rotating them. If for some unintended reason you rotate the bidirectional bezel in the wrong way, the calculated time would be off and may prove fatal for your dive. For instance, you may think that you have been underwater for 15 minutes when in fact you have been 30.

Alternatively, a unidirectional bezel allows that if you accidentally move it, it would indicate time more than what was initially set. This means that the time can accidentally indicate a 20-minute period underwater when in fact, it has only been 10 minutes. 

Although quite a hassle, a longer time assumed underwater is much better than less time due to the limited availability of breathing gas.

In terms of construction, there are two distinct approaches in the design of these types of bezels: external and internal. As the name implies, external dive watch bezels are located on the outside of the crystal while internal dive watch bezels are protected by the crystal. You will need a crown to operate the latter bezel.

Despite the internal type offering much more safety in its security, it offers less practicality when used for scuba diving due to having to screw loose the crown to rotate the bezel.Oris Aquis Date Blue - Bracelet - 39.5mm - Ref. 01 733 7732 4135-07 8 21 05PEB

Popular dive watches include the Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster, Oris Aquis Date, Seiko Prospex, and Rado Captain Cook.

Read also: 5 Best Summer Watches for Sunny Day Companion

How to Read Dive Watch Bezel

The first step in knowing how to use dive watch bezels is to understand its parts. The “count up” type of bezels typically used for dive watches have to comply with the ISO standards for dive watches. 

The ISO standard requires dive bezels to feature marks at 5- or 10- minute intervals moving up clockwise, a mark to indicate zero, or when the bezel is not in use aligned at the 12 o’clock (usually shaped like a triangle).

For starters, a typical scuba dive lasts for around 30 to 50 minutes. So, how to use a dive watch bezel and when? For example, when diving, you enter the water and when you reach the deepest part you can go at 10:30, align the pip at the 10:30 mark on your watch. 

After this, you will have an understanding of how much time has passed. If in practicing how to read a dive watch bezel, say, your watch is at 10:40, the aligned marker on the bezel will be 10, which means that 10 minutes have passed by with you underwater.

Aside from timing your trip underwater, a dive watch aids in taking “decompression stops”, a rest period where divers go up to the surface after a while underwater in order to slowly release nitrogen from the body. Similar to timing moments underwater, knowing how to read dive watch bezels can help in calculating these stops.

For instance, you need to rest for 5 minutes after going down 8 meters. You can reset your watch as you don’t need to count your bottom dive underwater and start again to count your decompression stop.

Knowing how to use a dive watch bezel is not only useful for timing trips out on the sea but also for day-to-day activities. Whether for checking your frozen pizza, timing the duration for a run, and more. This is the reason why the best dive watches continue to be popular in the watch community.

Read also: 7 Different Types of Watch Bezels and The Functions

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