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Feature: How Can Dive Bezels Save A Life?

It’s no secret that most dive watch owners don’t use the accompanying bezel for its intended purpose: timing a dive. While that also includes myself—using my personal dive bezel as an extravagant fidget toy—these tools, if used correctly, could save a life.

A dive bezel isn’t a complicated piece of technology. To use one, first, turn the bezel so that the 12 o’clock marker is in line with the minute hand. Depending on the watch, the bezel should only rotate anti-clockwise. This ensures minutes aren’t subtracted accidentally.

From here, keep track of the minute hand and compare it to where the bezel marker is. For example: if you started with the bezel aligned with the hand at ten minutes past, and the minute hand has moved to 20 minutes past, we now know that it has been ten minutes. See?

So, how can that save a life? It allows a diver to know how long they’ve been in the water. That’s important, because as they descend into the water, the deeper they get, the more pressure their body faces, making it harder to breathe. To combat this, divers use specialised gear which provides a highly concentrated flow of air to the lungs.

The oxygen in the air is used throughout the dive by the body, but not the nitrogen. Being that the air is concentrated for the depth—meaning there is more oxygen and nitrogen the deeper you go—it would be unwise to suddenly come back up. Doing so would get you “The Bends”, which can be fatal. This is when the nitrogen bubbles in the body due to changes in pressure caused by the rapid ascension.

To avoid this, divers do a slow, controlled ascent and only stay down for the amount of time dictated by a depth card. The dive bezel, therefore, allows the diver to track how long they’ve been in the water and thus potentially saving their life.

Okay, okay, let me address the elephant in the room: if you were to ask a professional diver which watches they trusted with their life, they’d probably say some fancy-pants new release from the likes of Garmin, and who would blame ‘em? Technology has improved and has made everyone’s—including divers—lives easier.

Now, does that make traditional dive watches obsolete? Of course not. It’s always good to have a mechanical backup, and anyway, there are more uses to a dive bezel than, well, diving. You can use it to time anything really. It could save dinners from being burnt to a crisp and even help with those pesky parking tickets. Just remember: always re-align the bezel before snapping a photo. A dive bezel won’t be able to save you from the wrath of the internet.

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