Rolex Bezel Types Decoded

by Andy Jones on Apr 24, 2024

Rolex Bezel Types Decoded

Rolex timepieces are symbols of accomplishment and distinction, known for their impeccable artistry, engineering, and meticulous attention to detail. Since its inception in 1905, Rolex has continuously pushed boundaries in watchmaking and marketing, introducing groundbreaking features and technologies over the years.

The brand has pioneered influential design elements in the watch industry, with Rolex bezels standing out as a defining feature. The brand has developed diverse bezel styles, each contributing to the watch's functionality and enhancing its visual appeal. 

Crafted with precision and designed to endure daily wear, Rolex bezels epitomize timeless sophistication, adding to the brand's iconic identity.

So, relax and immerse yourself in our collector's handbook on Rolex bezels types.

What is a Watch Bezel?

A watch bezel is a ring-shaped component that encircles and secures the watch glass or crystal. It protects the dial and movement against external elements and ensures the watch's water resistance.

Watch bezels serve both aesthetic and functional purposes. In addition to securing the crystal, this can also feature numerical markings and other indicators that may be used for measuring time intervals or tracking elapsed time.

The watch bezel has been a significant element in the evolution of the watch industry since its introduction in the 1930s. Initially serving as modest embellishments with both practical and decorative functions, bezels gained functional prominence in the 1950s.

In 1953, Blancpain introduced the unidirectional rotating bezel on their Fifty Fathoms diving watch, marking a pivotal moment in bezel functionality. Subsequently, in 1957, Omega pioneered the placement of the tachymeter scale on the watch bezel. Since then, bezels have become indispensable tools for accurate time tracking during various activities.

Specifically focusing on Rolex watches, the bezel plays a vital role in enclosing and protecting the watch crystal on the watch case, just like bezels are meant to do. While some bezels have practical functions, others are purely decorative. Bezels can be fixed in position or designed to rotate. Despite their importance, Rolex bezels are sometimes overlooked, yet they are among a timepiece's most visually distinctive elements.

Given that Rolex utilizes only four bracelet styles across various collections (Oyster, Jubilee, President, and Oysterflex), the bezel design often serves as the primary visual differentiator among their models.

Rolex Bezel Types 

Easily identifiable at a distance, Rolex watches have forged a robust design identity with their outstanding bezels. These bezels improve the watch's functionality and showcase the brand's dedication to seamlessly blending form and function.

Decorative Rolex Bezel 

Decorative Rolex Bezel | TSJNY

In addition to securing the crystal, some Rolex bezels serve as decorative elements, contributing to the visual appeal and enriching the overall design of their timepieces.

These decorative bezels types are—

Smooth Bezel

This Rolex bezel design is the most classic and is found on stainless steel, gold (in yellow, white, or Everose), and platinum watches. These bezels are smooth and shiny; depending on the specific model, they can be even flat or domed. 

While this smooth bezel design is not exclusive to Rolex, it is regarded as their most adaptable bezel style and is commonly seen as the standard design for their entry-level watches.

Fluted Bezel

The fluted bezel from Rolex stands out as one of the brand's iconic design features. Its ribbed and grooved look serves a practical purpose, aiding in securely fastening the bezel to the crystal and offering a comfortable grip. 

Rolex has meticulously crafted its fluted bezels using solid gold, enhancing their decorative allure and bringing a touch of sophistication to their timepieces.


Gem-set bezels feature precious stones like sapphires and, most commonly, diamonds. They add brilliance and distinction to the most exclusive and luxurious Rolex watches, whether dress watches (like the Datejust or Day-Date) or sports models (like the Daytona).

ENGINE-TURNED Bezel (no longer in production) 

The engine-turned bezel was favored by those seeking a decorative alternative to the fluted bezel while avoiding a completely smooth surface. Its smaller ridges and bold, smooth lines encircling the hour markers recognize it. 

This style is primarily associated with the Date and Air-King models.

BARK FINISH Bezel (no longer in production)

The bark finish exhibits a finer and rougher texture than the engine-turned bezel. These bezels are commonly featured in elaborate, limited editions of the Day-Date and Datejust models, crafted in gold.

Professional Rolex Bezels

Professional Rolex Bezels | TSJNY

The bezels featured on Rolex's professional line are crafted with specialized functionalities that extend beyond their visual attractiveness. These designs were meticulously engineered to cater to the precise requirements of professionals and enthusiasts across diverse fields and activities.

The professional Rolex bezel types are—

Rotating Bezels

These bezels feature 60-minute graduations and are designed to work with the minute's scale on the watch dial, allowing users to time events lasting up to one hour.

For instance, the Submariner's rotating bezel aids divers in monitoring diving time and decompression stops. In contrast, the yacht master's bezel tracks the time to cover a specific distance while sailing.

It's worth noting that Rolex began using unidirectional bezels for their dive watches in 1983. This design ensures that the remaining dive time can only decrease and not extend.

Directions to Use: To use a rotating bezel, align the zero marker with the minute hand to establish a reference point. Observe the minute hand's position relative to the bezel markings to track elapsed time as time passes. You can also monitor remaining time by checking how much time is left on the bezel.

24-Hour Bezel 

The 24-hour bezel, as its name implies, is marked with a 24-hour scale and is utilized to indicate another time zone. Rolex offers two types of 24-hour bezels: a fixed version in the Rolex Explorer II and a rotating variant like the one featured in the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II models.

When paired with the 24-hour hand, it enables users to tell time in a different time zone, while a stationary 24-hour bezel can serve as an AM-PM indicator.

Directions to Use: Start by aligning the 24-hour markers with the hour hand to establish a reference time for the second time zone. Then, monitor the position of the 24-hour markers against the bezel scale to keep track of time in the second time zone or compare it with your current time zone.

Tachymeter Bezel

The tachymeter bezel is a feature found on chronograph watches that measures speeds. It can calculate speed based on travel time or measure distance based on speed. A tachymetric scale distinguishes this bezel and is exclusively used in the Rolex catalog by the Cosmograph Daytona model.

Directions to Use: To utilize the tachymeter bezel on the Rolex Daytona, start the chronograph function by pressing the top pusher. Let the clock run for a specific distance, then press the top pusher again to stop it. Refer to the number on the tachymeter scale that aligns with the chronograph second hand to determine the average speed in units per hour.

Ring Command Bezel 

Ring Command Bezel | TSJNY

The Ring Command bezel is a feature found on Rolex's most intricate timepieces, the Yacht-Master II and the Sky-Dweller. It is presented in a sporty, professional-style design on the Yacht-Master II and an elegant fluted design on the Sky-Dweller

These watches boast additional functions that may be too complex to adjust using the crown or "pushers," hence using the bezel to set these complications.

In the Yacht-Master II, the Ring Command bezel sets and activates the 10-minute regatta countdown timer. Meanwhile, the Rolex Sky-Dweller sets the date, local time, and reference time.

Directions to Use: Commence by unscrewing and pulling the crown to the second position. Next, rotate the bezel counterclockwise to choose the desired function (such as the date, local time, or reference time). Use the crown to adjust and set the selected function before pushing the crown back in and screwing it down to secure your chosen setting.


Over the decades since its inception, Rolex has continuously offered and enhanced its bezel designs across its full range of timepieces. Recognizable even from a distance, Rolex bezels improve the watches' functionality and reflect the brand's commitment to both form and function.

At Time Source Jewelers in Huntington Village, New York, we are committed to offering our customers the finest luxury watches. Visit us today to explore our extensive selection of Rolex watches and thousands of authentic, pre-owned luxury timepieces from top brands!