A Comprehensive Guide to Rolex Bezels and Bracelets
This entry was posted on May 30, 2018.
Even people who aren’t into luxury watches can oftentimes identify a Rolex watch. Rolex watches flaunt such strong design codes that they are immediately recognizable almost anywhere. And a huge part of the design of a Rolex watch is the bezel that frames the dial and the bracelet that secures the watch to the wrist. Today we go in deep into the details with our comprehensive guide to Rolex bezels and bracelets.
What are the Different Rolex Bezels?
Depending on the particular model, the bezel on a Rolex watch can have an additional purpose beyond just securing the crystal onto the watch case. Sometimes the bezel is purely decorative and sometimes the bezel is a functional part of the timepiece.
The Decorative Rolex Bezels
Decorative Rolex bezels include engine-turned, fluted, domed, and gem-set bezels. Although not available on contemporary Rolex watches, stainless steel engine-turned bezels were used on older Datejust, Oyster Perpetual, and Air-King models. Characterized by its distinct texture and look, engine-turned bezels on Rolex watches are always fashioned in stainless steel.
On the other hand, fluted bezels on Rolex watches are always crafted in gold—whether yellow, white or rose gold. This fact is particularly useful to differentiate between white gold or steel bezels since both metals are similar in color. Fun fact: on a Rolex watch, white metal fluted bezels are always in white gold, engine-turned bezels are always in steel, and white metal domed bezels are made from steel or platinum. The fluted is a signature trait of Rolex and can be found on models such as the Datejust, the Day-Date, the Air-King, and the Sky-Dweller.
The simplest of Rolex bezels is the domed one, also known as the smooth bezel. Void of any decoration, domed bezels can be made from either yellow or rose gold, steel, or platinum. These minimal style bezels can be found on Oyster Perpetual, Oysterdate, Datejust, Day-Date, Milgauss, Air-King, and Explorer watches.
Finally, Rolex is also famous for their decorative gem-set bezels, ranging from a subtle dash of diamonds to full diamond-set bezels to multicolored sapphire bezels. Particularly intriguing are the gem-set bezels on the GMT-Master models that use different colored gemstones to mimic bi-color bezels or the rainbow sapphire bezels found on limited edition gold Daytona models.
The Functional Rolex Bezels
Some Rolex models, particularly Rolex sports watches, include bezels that serve a specific purpose.
For instance, on the Submariner, Deepsea, or Sea-Dweller dive watches, the bezels marked to 60 minutes can be used for divers to keep track of how long they’ve been in the water for. It’s important to note that a dive bezel is typically unidirectional as a fail-safe feature. This is to prevent a diver from underestimating his immersion time. Older models of the Rolex dive watches come with aluminum bezel inserts while newer ones have Cerachrom ceramic ones.
Cerachrom is Rolex’s patented ceramic alloy that is not only resistant to scratching but promises to never fade from exposure to the sun. While the Deepsea and Sea-Dweller only come with black bezels, the Submariner has black, blue, and green ones available.
The Rolex GMT-Master and GMT-Master II pilot watches also come equipped with functional bezels, however, this time they are marked with 24 hours and are bi-directional. These bezels are used in conjunction with the extra 24-hour hand on the dial to indicate a second time zone—in the case of the GMT-Master II watches, the bezel can be used to keep track of three time zones.
The very first GMT-Master came with a Bakelite bezel in red and blue. The red portion of the bezel housed the AM hours while the blue portion had the PM hours. This allowed wearers to easily differentiate day and night hours of the second time zone. Due to the material’s fragility, Bakelite was replaced by aluminum bezels on later models. Rolex then eventually replaced the aluminum bezels with Cerachrom ceramic starting in the late 2000s. The variety of color combinations of the GMT-Master watches has spawned a slew of nicknames. There’s the blue and red “Pepsi,” the black and red “Coke,” the bronze and brown “Root Beer,” and the black and blue “Batman.”
As a chronograph watch, the Rolex Daytona has yet another type of functional bezel. The Daytona includes a tachymeter scale bezel to permit the user to calculate the average speed per hour over a certain distance. Over the years, Daytona watches have been equipped with aluminum bezels, metal bezels (gold or steel depending on the model) and more recently Cerachrom ceramic bezels.
The Yacht-Master watch sports a bidirectional 60-minute rotating bezel to allow users to time how long it takes to cover a specific distance while sailing. These particular bezels come with raised numerals and are available in platinum, gold, or Cerachrom ceramic.
Similar to the GMT-Master, the Explorer II also has a 24-hour bezel to indicate a second time zone, however it is fixed and the numerals are engraved into the steel bezel.
Last, but not least, the Sky-Dweller and the Yacht-Master II are outfitted with a very special functional bezel dubbed Ring Command by Rolex. Using patented technology, the Ring Command bezels actually control particular components of the watch movements within. On the Sky-Dweller, turning Ring Command bezel permits the user to set the different functions of the watch while on the Yacht-Master II the Ring Command bezel serves to control the programmable countdown feature.
What are the Different Rolex Bracelets and Straps?
The most prevalent bracelet in the Rolex lineup is the Oyster bracelet. Characterized by its flat three-piece links configuration, the Oyster bracelet is functional, comfortable, and looks fantastic on sports models such as the Submariner and the Daytona or dress watches like the Datejust and the Sky-Dweller. Rolex makes this particular bracelet in steel, gold, two-tone steel and gold, and platinum.
The Jubilee bracelet made its debut on the Datejust model in 1945 and includes semi-circular links in a five-piece arrangement with two larger links framing three smaller ones in the center. Prized for adding a dressier touch to a Rolex watches, these types of bracelets can be found on Datejust, Day-Date, and GMT-Master II watches.
Undoubtedly the most prestigious Rolex bracelet there is, the President bracelet is closely associated with the Rolex Day-Date watch as they were introduced together in 1956. Also crafted with semi-circular links but this time in a three-piece pattern, the President bracelet is only ever made in gold or platinum. Today, the President band is used on men’s Day-Date watches and select ladies’ Datejust watches.
In the late 1970s, Rolex unveiled a collection of quartz models they called the Oysterquartz. A distinct design trait of the Oysterquartz watches was their integrated bracelets, available in Oyster, Jubilee, and President styles.
The Masterpiece and the Pearlmaster bracelets are similar in style but the former is reserved for men’s Day-Date watches while the latter comes fitted on ladies’ Pearlmaster watches. Always made in gold or platinum, these bracelets feature rounded five-piece links.
Although not that common within the Oyster Perpetual range (much more common on Cellini watches), Rolex does offer watches with leather bands. For example, there are Day-Date, Sky-Dweller, and Daytona watches with Rolex factory leather bands.
The latest type of Rolex bracelet is the Oysterflex, launched in 2015. Composed of a titanium and nickel alloy metal blade covered in a black elastomer material, this is Rolex’s interpretation of a sporty rubber strap. The black Oysterflex bracelet is found on some Yacht-Master 40 and Daytona models.
Imparting such distinctive designs and functionality, Rolex bezels and bracelets are a big reason that these famous watches are as identifiable as they are.