The story of the rotating bezel
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  1. #1
    Member silvaticus's Avatar
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    The story of the rotating bezel

    Hi WUS community,

    I've recently become obsessed with rotating bezels (don't ask!), and was trying to learn everything about them that I could. And: what better place to learn about anything and everything watch-related than here! So I'd appreciate if you could help me scratch my itch, and let me know (or point me to) information about things like:
    - who invented it and when?
    - what was the first watch that had one?
    - how did they evolve over time (materials, technology, etc.)
    - distribution (how big is the share of watches that have a rotation bezel)
    - pilot vs. diver
    - internal vs. external
    - etc.

    Any tidbit of history or trivia on rotating bezels welcome!

  2. #2
    Moderator at Large stuffler,mike's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the rotating bezel

    First and second question: thanks to Roger Ruegger - "How the Rotating Bezel Landed on the Dive Watch" - we know that the concept dates back to 1929, when Philip Van Horn Weems applied for a patent for a wristwatch with a more complex external bezel, which was granted in 1935 and soon found its way on to many pilots’ watches, the most important one being the legendary Weems watch from Longines (other brands using the same lockable bezel included Omega, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Movado and Zenith).
    Kind regards
    Mike


    Instagram @mikestuffler

  3. #3
    Member silvaticus's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the rotating bezel

    Mike, thanks for the info... I was aware of Weems' pioneering work in navigation at that time, but didn't know that he was the one who first got an external bezel patented!

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  5. #4
    Member James A's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the rotating bezel

    Hi,

    I can answer in part, the how did they evolve question! For a brief period in the mid 1940s they are used to tell the day. The outer rotating bezel below shows the French days of the week. You turn the bezel so that the day(marked with a letter) matches the date. Thereafter as the date pointer hand moves it also shows the day of the week.



    Regards,

  6. #5
    Member silvaticus's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the rotating bezel

    James - wow, that's and interesting use of a rotation bezel that I've never heard of before. And a cool watch... thanks for sharing!

  7. #6
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    Re: The story of the rotating bezel

    Play with them too much and you'll find out how costly they are to replace, don't become a 'bezel player'. Greek Worry Beads are a good alternative.
    rfortson and Lord Monocle like this.

  8. #7
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    Re: The story of the rotating bezel

    I still find it the most convenient way of measuring less than 60 minutes.

  9. #8
    Member silvaticus's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the rotating bezel

    Watchbreath, you got me there... that's what I'm doing constantly right now (if the situation allows that I can spare a hand).

    As for the cost... I guess bezel-play might still be a "cheap" addiction compared to many others out there (even if you manage to break one).

    And: it kinda calms me, and I guess that turning the bezel on my watch is a healthier response than jumping up and going on a rampage when somebody says something stupid in a meeting (which, in my experience, happens constantly).

    So all things considered, I think I'll be a risk-taker here and keep on playing with my bezel. But thanks for the advice nonetheless!

  10. #9
    Member silvaticus's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the rotating bezel

    Busa, me too! I use mine all the time, for timing all kinds of things. Do you prefer an internal or external bezel? I've been an external bezel guy until now (those clicks!), but I'm contemplating eventually getting a watch with an internal one too (something along the lines of the Longines Legend Diver).

  11. #10
    Member silvaticus's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the rotating bezel

    Speaking of which... anybody know the (hi)story of those internal bezels?

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