The bezel

The thread undertaken by our column, on the aesthetics of watches, cannot overlook the bezel, that ring which frames the watch crystal and which may be fixed or mobile (in GMTs or divers, for example). The bezel can also be made of innovative materials, particularly in recent times it is ceramic that takes the lion's share of the design. Some bezel designs constitute watchmaking 'milestones' and identify watch models that are still recognisable at a glance today. Well-known designers have decreed the fortunes of the Maisons and the happiness of their customers with the right stroke of the pencil when designing the bezel. On sports watches, this has even more significance. In recent years, a number of historical bezel designs, belonging to well-known models and attributable to brands that have identified entire watch lines by means of this element, have changed their typical design, creating considerable perplexity for the end customer, who has widely criticised the execution, but has had to resign himself to the change. The inclusion of ceramic was also greeted with some doubt, although in many cases this material (used, for example, by Rolex on all its new technical models) gave the watch a new sophistication, long overdue. Bezels, fixed or rotating, can be made of different materials: platinum, gold, steel, titanium, enamel, bakelite, aluminium, ceramic... They can be engraved or stamped with different types of scales (for chronograph use, for use in immersion, or for a quick reading of a second time zone) and finished with a polished, satin-finished or sandblasted finish. Finally, they can be flat, convex, smooth, knurled, knurled or faceted. As far as functions are concerned, they can be fixed (for chronograph use), rotating in one direction only (in diver's watches) or rotating in both directions (e.g. GMT). In jewellery models, they are often embellished with stones, with a wide choice of colours, shapes and cuts. In conclusion, here are the usual tips for good durability and to maintain the 'look' over time. Try to avoid the usual traumas, scratches or deep marks, in graduated and coloured ones (especially in aluminium), avoid 'brazen' exposure to the sun (they discolour), keep them away from corrosive substances or solvents for 'do-it-yourself' cleaning, and in those of well-known models, whose bezels represent half of their beauty, I advise against continuous and asphyxiating polishing: in the long run, the original shape and, therefore, their peculiar character will be modified.