December 2, 2008
by Ariel Adams
What do each of these watches have in common? Yeah, they are all Rolex watches, but there is something else here that Rolex is best known for; fluted bezels. The tooth like shaping on the area around the face of the watch has a very specific purpose.
Around the time I first began to notice my appreciation for watches, I also began to notice how I did not care for Rolex watches. Since then, my tastes have developed and there is a lot of room for Rolex appreciation. Still, some of the models just don’t do it for me. And most of those models feature a fluted bezel.
The purpose of this article is to discuss what a fluted bezel is, why have one, and how they found a place on watches. Fluting is a technique taken from glass blowing and jewelry making. The idea is to have a toothed, corrugated, grooves, or channeled surface with highly polished surfaces. It stemmed from the concept of gem cutting, which attempts to create as many symmetrical flat surfaces as possible to refract light. The more light which is refracted, the shinier the surfaces look, especially when shifted in the light. Basically what people do when they hold up a diamond or precious gem in an attempt to value it by judging the sparkle you see. Is this a good assessment of value? Maybe. Psychologically we are drawn to shiny objects. I am not sure why, but you can’t deny it. Perhaps there is some bio-evolutionary function to it, but the bottom line is that we like our measures of wealth to be shiny much of the time.
A fluted bezel, such as on a Rolex, practically doubles the available flat polished surface area on the bezel. Allowing not only a greater surface for light refraction, but also the ability to reflect light from different angles as the same time. So what I am saying? That the whole point of a fluted bezel on a Rolex, Datejust, Day-Date, Turnograph, or other model, is simply to make the watch appear more shiny. More shiny to heighten your perception of value, and more shiny to turn your watch into a piece jewelry. This isn’t too much of a concern as Rolex watches actually do really well at telling time, but they actually have that alternate, bling purpose.
Rolex has been placing fluted bezels on watches practically as long as Rolex watches have been around. And for almost as long, other watch companies have been copying Rolex and placing fluted bezels on their own watches. Because it takes a high level of polish on a perfectly milled piece of metal (steel or gold), only an expesively made fluted bezel will have the most glorious sheen.
My disinterest for fluted bezels during my budding watch enthusiasm period had a lot to do with how little fluted bezels contributed to watch function, and were merely an aesthetic portion of what many consider staid looking watches. That was then, and while I am not exactly in love with fluted bezels I am impressed at their staying power. While you may not be in love with Rolex watches that embody this look, you’d never consider them out of place. For whatever reason, the power of the fluted bezel has lasted generations and transcended so many types of styles and looks. Is a watch jewelry? It sure can be, and it can be a tool, or any combination in between. So now you know a bit more about something you’ve probably seen a thousand times and never really thought about.
See Rolex watches with fluted bezels on eBay here.See Rolex watches on Amazon here. [phpbay]rolex fluted, num, “14324”, “”[/phpbay]