Though the bezel (the round outer ring that attaches the protective crystal to the face of the watch) can certainly provide a high class stylistic look to a Rolex, it actually serves an important role in keeping the watch pressurized. In certain sports models it also helps to facilitate the measurement of time and elapsed speed. Though it serves a function beyond the look, that doesn’t deny that it adds a touch of class to any fine timepiece. Available both bejeweled and with a more sedate and simple look, the bezel is an important part of what makes a Rolex a Rolex.
The bezel comes in a number of styles both ornate and reserved, and in some cases is inscribed with numbers or symbols related to alternative functionality rather than the traditional twenty minute mark and forty minute mark. In some cases, it’s designed with twenty-four hour markings while others include an elapsed time marking (for diving, primarily). Bezels can also come with a tachymeter, which allows the wearer to compute speed based on travel time or to compute the distance traveled base on speed.
The Rolex Datejust Turn-o-Graph was created in 1955 in order to present to Air Force personnel returning from combat missions. In this case, the bezel itself rotates allowing for the measurement of time in intervals of up to sixty minutes. The relationship of this model to the Air Force led to the nickname “Thunderbirds” in reference to the model and it’s reported that Chuck Yeager wore the watch when he broke the sound barrier.
There’s more to a bezel than meets the eye, much as there’s more to a Rolex that meets the eye. It’s another example of the attention to detail that makes this Rolex a remarkable product and more than just a luxury.