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Why Is the Unidirectional Bezel on the Rolex Submariner So Important?

Vintage Rolex Submariner
A vintage Rolex Submariner

When Rolex released the Submariner in the 1950s, the bezel moved in both directions. Although the rotating bezel was revolutionary both because it rotated and because of the serrated edges making it easy to grip while underwater, the bezel in first generation was very inferior to its modern counterpart. The bezel has sixty minute graduations and with an arrow marker at the 12 position, the rotation could tell a diver when an hour passed or, for that matter, when any amount of time passed based on how it was set.

However, because it was bi-directional, the bezel could be bumped in either direction during a dive. If it was bumped the wrong direction, it would make it seem to a diver they were underwater for less time than they were.

A number of upgrades have occurred to the Submariner over the years and maybe none is more important than the changes on the bezel. Today, a Submariner bezel can move only forward. This is important in deep dives. If the bezel is bumped, it simply means the diver will see less time to remain on the dive, far less dangerous than staying under longer than the diver should.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget Rolex watches have a purpose. Today, computers and electronic equipment provide all the functionality of a dive watch but many divers use the Submariner as backup in case of equipment failure.

So what do you think of this model and it’s bezel?

**TIP** To use the Submariner’s bezel, rotate the zero-marker to the left, stopping at the minute hand on the dial. As the minute hand moves, it will tell the elapsed time by pointing to the minute on the bezel. This should be done before entering the water.


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