Rolex’s dive watches have been a sophisticated tool to both professional and amateur divers since the 1950s. Not only are they tested to great depths, but they also strive for high visibility in the darkest of conditions. Since the 1980s, Rolex has equipped their dive watch with unidirectional rotating bezels that only turn one way, thus keeping divers safer in the water.
If you’re going to use your Rolex dive watch for, well, diving, you need to know how to use its unidirectional bezel. Unidirectional means that the bezel only turns in one direction (clockwise). This is meant to help divers avoid accidentally exceeding their time limit by keeping track of elapsed time more accurately than a conventional rotating bezel would allow.
Rolex Submariner Kermit Green Bezel Flat 4 Steel Mens Watch 16610LV
The Unidirectional Bezel on the Rolex Submariner and Sea-Dweller
The first iterations of the Rolex Submariner collection from the 1950s featured a bi-directional bezel. The markings and shape were boasted to be superior for underwater use with a serrated edge to increase grip under the water.
Right before the 1980s, Rolex decided to increase the benefits of their bezel by making it unidirectional. That way, no matter how you’re using your hands under the water, you won’t accidentally move your timer marker backward, making you think you have more time than you actually do.
When it comes to deep saturation dives, every second matters, and keeping accurate time is imperative. The Sea-Dweller also first appeared with a bi-directional bezel that was later replaced with a unidirectional variation.
Rolex Seadweller 4000 Black Dial Steel Mens Watch 16600
How to Use the Unidirectional Bezel
The unidirectional bezel is used to time the dive. Because of this, an accidental movement of the bezel during your dive can only shorten your dive time, not lengthen it. Despite the differences in other features (like the depth resistance), the unidirectional bezel on both the Submariner and the Sea-Dweller functions the same.
If you have an older, vintage model of either the Sea-Dweller or the Submariner (before 1980), then expect your bezel to be bi-directional. They’ll function in much the same way, but will be capable of turning counterclockwise as well as clockwise.
Before the Dive
Before you dive, it’s important to set the bezel to your starting time. This will ensure that you know how long you’ve been underwater and make it easier for someone else to check on you later. It’s also necessary to make sure that your watch is clean and tight, and that the crown is screwed down, so that water doesn’t get inside.
Before you start descending, turn the bezel clockwise until the triangle on the graduation marks the location of the minute hand. The triangle is your zero marker and also is filled with luminescent paint to make it easy to see even in deeper water. This effectively marks the beginning of your dive.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea Cameron D-Blue 116660 and Sea-Dweller 43mm 126660
During the Dive
During the dive, you can easily measure the elapsed time of a dive or determine how much air remains in your tank.
Using the location of the minute hand during your dive, you can refer to the markings on the bezel to determine how long you’ve been underwater. The bezel has a 60-minute graduated Cerachrom insert to help determine the dive time.
It’s an easy way to determine your dive time immediately instead of having to do mathematics underwater.
Rolex Unidirectional Dive Bezels: Final Thoughts
The unidirectional dive bezel is a great feature on the Rolex Submariner and Sea-Dweller watches. It makes it easy to track your dive time, but it also has other uses.
If you’ve set the watch properly, you’re ready to go on your next dive or underwater adventure. The next time you’re out diving or hiking near waterfalls with friends, remember how useful this feature can be! Dive watches aren’t only for divers. The unidirectional bezel can be handy when timing a number of activities.
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