When consumers choose a watch they consider a number of factors - price, brand, quality, look, size, weight etc  - and often the sport or pastime with which the watch is emotionally connected. Watches don't simply tell the time. Many watches, in particular men's sport watches, have other functions known as 'complications' that can measure other things. Many of these functions rely on a rotatable metal or ceramic ring around the circular dial of an analogue watch. It's called a 'bezel'. Let’s take a look at a few of them to understand the emotional connection between the functional bezel and a particular sport or pastime.


The most common bezel is this one - often known as a diving bezel. If the start marker is aligned with the minute hand at the point the diver goes underwater it is possible to tell the time normally but also read off the 'time elapsed' or 'dive time' by looking at the minute hand's position relative to the scale on the bezel.

Whilst the function is based on time elapsed, the watch is often used to convey the emotion of water or ocean based sports. Famous watches with this bezel are the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Seamaster.


Probably the next most common bezel is this one - it enables the wearer to estimate speed. If a moving object, say a car, takes one minute to travel one mile then it is moving at 60 miles per hour hence the 60 at the 12 o'clock position. If it takes just 30 seconds to travel one mile then it is moving at 120 mph hence the 120 at the 6 o'clock position. One mile in 15 seconds gives a speed of 240 mph and so on.

As the bezel measures speed it is most commonly used to capture the emotion of motorsport, in particularly Formula One. Famous watches that use this bezel and convey the emotion of motorsport are the Rolex Daytona, Omega Speedmaster and the Tag Formula One. The bezel is also sometimes used in an aviation theme capturing the emotion of jet speed - Pilot, Aviator etc.


The GMT bezel enables the wearer to read off the time in two times zones when used with an extra GMT hand on the face. Some show three time zones when an additional scale is placed on the dial. Originally designed for Pan Am pilots so they could tell the GMT time when flying and actual time at their destination. 

Again, function is GMT but the emotion is all about travelling. International business men and women need to know the time in different time zones to schedule that important business call. 


Fairly straight forward compass using an additional hand or you can point the hour hand at the sun (if its shining) and read off the direction on the bezel.

So you must be? .....an explorer or something of that nature!


Self explanatory really - read off the time in all those cities in the world as you 'jetset' from one to the other.


In the medical profession?- then of course you'll need one of these. It measures heart rate and some even measure respiratory rate too. Is there a docter in the house? Check the bezel on his watch to substantiate his claim!

That was a brief guide to some of the most popular bezels - but I know of a few more too.

Telemetric Bezel - see the flash of lightning, then hear the thunder and use the scale to tell you how far away the storm is. A must for weathermen and weather girls!

Time Elapsed Count Down Bezel - works like a count up bezel but in reverse - tells you what time you have left rather than what you have used - an essential piece of kit for the Parking Meter attendant!

Slide Rule Bezel - early aviators used maps and slide rules to navigate as they didn't have instruments. Most often seen on aviation themed watches in particular by Breitling.

Yachting Bezel - I don't do 'sailing' so all I know is it has something to do with crossing the start line at the right time.

Trainmaster - well the Swiss would have one of these!

If you come across any more please let me know.

So if you're still struggling to understand the thinking behind my bezel, how it works but most importantly what it means then here's a brief explanation.


The Linksometric bezel was originally inspired by the Pace of Play guidelines published by the R&A and if it is worn on the course allows the golfer to regulate their pace of play to 3 hours 50 minutes. Simply turn the ball on tee start marker to your tee time and your 'appointment' time with each successive hole is marked on the bezel.

But let's not get lost in a pace of play discussion - it does work and most people want to play in 18 holes in under four hours which is widely regarded as 'a good pace'. Pace is a function of time and distance so a watch (specifically the minute hand) and the holes on a golf course are the perfect match for a bezel themed around golf.

However we all know that many golfers don't wear a watch when playing golf and for many that do, their watch choice on the course is a GPS 'watch'. But once golfers leave the course they usually take their GPS off and put their proper watch on. The most important thing about my bezel is the unique number combination that at first glance appears as a random roulette wheel of hole numbers is actually the 'secret code' that means you're instantly recognisable as someone with a passion for golf where ever you wear the watch off the course! Like most watches it's about recognition and an identity.

So now you know what bezels do but more importantly what they mean, choose your sport or pastime and make sure your watch says the right thing about you!

I'm sure that there's quite a few golf lovers out there, wearing watches that say they love all sorts of sports that they actually don't!  So perhaps it's time to add an ETIQUS to your watch collection. :)

Enjoy twiddling with your bezels!

Gary Butler


PS Since writing this post TAGHeuer have launched their Match Timer watch to coincide with their sponsorship of the Premier League in the UK. I first saw this bezel on a childrens watch some year ago and thought that it would be a great idea for the Football Fanatic.

It's a pretty simple version of a time elapsed bezel using the 45 min count up relating to each half of a football match. As the half time break is normally 15 mins it conveniently adds up to 60 minutes to bring you back to the start marker for the start of the second half ... assuming no injury or extra time is played.

As a football fan myself I think this bezel is really useful as gone are the days when all matches mainly kicked off at 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon. With matches starting at all sorts of times this bezel enables you to set the start time of the match and then be pretty clear on when it's due to finish.