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How Does A Dive Watch Bezel Work?

How Does A Dive Watch Bezel Work?

The rotating bezel is without a doubt one of the most distinctive features of a dive watch because it helps divers determine how long they have been underwater and warn them when their oxygen is running low. In some models, it will also show the diver’s depth.

As most scuba tanks run out of oxygen in around 60 minutes, rotating bezels are split into 60 sections with each section representing one minute. A standard scuba dive (in which the diver is equipped with a standard air tank) usually lasts 30 to 50 minutes, mostly depending on the depth reached and the shape the diver is in (basically, how physically demanding the dive is). This explains why the first 15 to 20 minutes on the bezel inlay are often more highlighted – the end of this sector theoretically indicates the point of return (exception: “countdown” bezels that mark the time of ascent).

Before a diver goes underwater, they set their timepiece to a specific time depending on the depth they are planning to reach. 

Other Characteristics Of A Dive Watch

A dive watch is specifically designed for underwater activities and as you can imagine, all underwater diving requires very precise timing and reliability to be safe. This is why there are a number of characteristics that set dive watches apart from other watches:

ISO 6425 standard

The ISO 6425 Standard defines a set of tests that a watch must pass to be qualified for underwater use.  The key elements that the modern standard requires are:

'A minimum depth-rating of 100 metres, an unidirectional bezel, a dial visible in total darkness, and for the watch to be anti-magnetic, shock-resistant, corrosion-resistant.'

You can find the full standard here.

Water Resistance

As you’d expect, dive watches are designed to be water-resistant, and in order for a watch to be considered a dive watch, it must be water resistant to at least 100 metres. However, more advanced watches will have a water resistance of at least 200 metres.

All dive watches are individually tested to those high ISO standards, so when a dive watch is water resistant, it means it. Whether your watch ends up in the rain, shower or sea, it will remain sound with the water-protective seal. 


As well as being incredibly waterproof, all dive watches are easy-to-read so you never have to worry about inaccurate timekeeping underwater. Many contain luminosity and have high contrasting, non-cluttered dials and markers with a large, easily identifiable minute hand for no or low light conditions. 

The markers for 3, 6, 9 and (especially) 12 o'clock on the watch face and the zero marker on the bezel of analogue diver's watches are usually conspicuously styled to prevent disorientation induced read out errors. 

Durability & Robustness

Dive watches are also designed to withstand pressure and, more often than not, are made from stainless steel or rubber. These materials are the most adaptable to seawater, hard to break and require little maintenance. They can also withstand pressure, direct sunlight, and humidity.

Helium Escape Valve 

Not all dive watches come equipped with a helium escape valve. However, this feature allows professional divers operating at great depths for prolonged times to ensure their watch can release the trapped helium during resurfacing, protecting the watch.

How To Wear A Dive Watch

Evidently, you can wear a dive watch to engage in water sports such as scuba diving, snorkelling or surfing. However, they are not limited to water-based activities and are in fact incredibly versatile timepieces. They can be dressed up or worn casually, and will look just as sophisticated paired with a formal suit as they will with a nice t-shirt and jeans.

The Best Dive Watches And Straps

OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300 Co-Axial Master Chronometer 41mm

Water-resistant up to 300 metres, the OMEGA Seamaster Diver is the perfect durable underwater timekeeping accessory that will last you a lifetime.

This model features a black distinctive dial with a date window at the 3 o’clock position, and is visible through a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The black ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel is mounted on a 41 mm stainless steel case with a helium-escape valve at 10 o'clock. The watch is presented on a stainless steel bracelet and powered by the Co-Axial calibre 2500.

The most important part? Even with a scuba mask on, the Omega Seamaster Diver watch looks exceptional and is easy to read. 

The Hirsch Grand Duke Strap

The Hirsch Grand Duke is a handsome Italian calfskin leather strap, with a refined alligator-style embossed pattern. This high-quality strap has a real presence on the wrist, while maintaining a durable and water-resistant finish. Perfect for outdoor activities but also sophisticated enough to pair with a smart outfit. 

You can find our full Hirsch Grand Duke range here. 

Morellato Cordura 2

The Morellato Cordura 2 is an excellent choice for use during exercise and water activities, as it is extremely robust and water-resistant. It's densely-woven fabric effortlessly combines modern design sensibilities with a classic overall look. 

Shop our complete Morellato Cordura 2 collection here. 


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Written by Kate, for Watch Obsession.