The go-to material for the majority of microbrands is stainless steel as it’s plentiful, durable, and relatively easy to work with. RZE has bucked the trend with an affordable diver and field watch dressed in full titanium, both at accessible prices. Of course, titanium isn’t a new material for watches, but it’s usually reserved for more established brands and carries a bit of a premium. Both RZE Endeavour models we have on hand – the Endeavour Polaris White and Resolute Arctic Grey – bring a lot to the table with a solid blend of form and function.
RZE was founded in 2020 and is based in Singapore and Malaysia. Travis Tan, his wife Vivian, and longtime friend Clarence launched the first titanium Resolute Field Watch on Kickstarter, anxious and unsure how things would play out. Within six minutes, the campaign reached $30,000 and was fully funded. Needless to say, the trio had a successful formula. Travis also happens to be a commercial airline pilot, so he knows a thing or two about the benefits of titanium. During his travels around the world, he saw how various cultures influenced the design language of watches and remembered unique details that piqued his interest. He applied these experiences to his own designs, which were also influenced by his engineering background. RZE designs always centre around functionality with a clean and simple form. Tool watches with style.
Titanium, with its lightweight properties, durability and appealing aesthetic, is at the core of the brand’s portfolio. The metal was first used for a watch in 1970 by Citizen with the X-8 Chronometer. Half a century later, it’s a popular alternative to stainless steel, but often at a price. Luxury brands have embraced titanium with pieces like the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Titanium and Titanium Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon, but it’s much more impressive when small brands can utilize it at an accessible price. While the metal has an incredible strength-to-density ratio and corrosion resistance (and is anti-magnetic), it’s difficult to work with. There’s a “sticky” property that makes machining tricky, requiring coated carbide tools to resist heat buildup and maintain smooth, clean surfaces. It’s not something that many microbrands are willing to take on, but RZE has made it a requisite material that really defines the brand and for less than many steel counterparts.
ENDEAVOUR’ POLARIS WHITE’
The first of two RZE Endeavour we have is an impressive diver that’s equal in form and function. The titanium case is very wearable at 40.5mm in diameter and 12.5mm in height (46mm lug-to-lug). The metal also makes it noticeably lighter than steel, about 110g with the bracelet, which is much appreciated for daily wear. RZE has given the titanium a special coating called ULTRAHex, giving it a Vickers hardness of 1200 (standard Grade 5 titanium has a hardness of 396Hv). That’s eight times harder than 316L stainless steel. The unidirectional rotating bezel dominates the front, but look closer, and the case has an interesting, angular shape. Flat, angled lugs slope down in a way that gives the case and bracelet an integrated look, although it’s a more conventional arrangement. The bezel has a detailed scale with black Arabic numerals engraved every five minutes and a triangular marker with Super-LumiNova. The screw-down crown is solid titanium with an integrated, angular guard, and water-resistance is rated at a solid 200 metres. A sapphire crystal with an internal anti-reflective coating protects the dial, while the caseback is solid titanium with a VITON gasket. The 20mm two-link titanium bracelet perfectly complements the case and has micro-adjustments in the folding clasp. It’s very comfortable on the wrist and titanium is hypoallergenic.
The white dial has an interesting mix of Super-LumiNova C3 and BGW9. The dial and bezel marker have a bluish glow, while the hands and indices have a yellowish glow. It’s among the most legible nighttime dials I’ve seen recently and will surely excel underwater. In daylight, you can see the different lume colours with the tips of the indices at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock with their contrasting greenish-blue. The colours prevent the dial from becoming too monochromatic and bring a unique style to an otherwise tool-ish piece. The crystal’s anti-reflective coating also does its job well.
Powering the RZE Endeavour ‘Polaris White’ is Seiko’s NH38A automatic, which is both a reliable and affordable workhorse. It has 24 jewels, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 41-hour power reserve. It’s a time-only movement with central hours, minutes, and seconds. Accuracy is rated at -20/+40 seconds per day, but performance is generally better in practice.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The RZE Endeavour ‘Polaris White’ retails for only USD 469, which is a real value proposition for a titanium diver that can descend to 200 metres. It comes with a two-year warranty and free shipping and is packaged with a nice Tarpaulin watch pouch and bracelet sizing tool.
Quick facts: 40.5mm diameter x 12.5mm height – titanium with ULTRAHex coating – sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating – titanium caseback with VITON gasket – 200m water-resistance – white dial with Super-LumiNova C3 and BGW9 – Seiko NH38A automatic – 24 jewels – 21,600vph (3Hz) – 41-hour power reserve – hours, minutes and seconds – titanium two-link bracelet with micro-adjustments – USD 469
RESOLUTE ‘ARCTIC GREY’
The second watch is a field variant of the Endeavour with (almost) the same titanium case and bracelet. The diameter remains 40.5mm but is a bit slimmer without the rotating bezel at 11.5mm. Water-resistance has been reduced to 100 metres, which makes sense as this is a more universal field watch. Other than the bezel, a big aesthetic difference between the two watches is the dial, which is sand-textured grey with a date window at 3 o’clock. Like the Endeavour, there is a mix of Super-LumiNova C3 and BGW9, providing a cool light show at night. The hands and applied indices emit a greenish glow, while circular marks and Arabic numerals every 15 minutes on the outermost track are blue. The lollipop seconds hand also has a blue circle. As a fan of field watches, I think I prefer the Resolute over the Endeavour, but both are well-executed titanium pieces, and the latter is a competent diver.
The Seiko NH35A in the Resolute has 24 jewels, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 41-hour power reserve. The difference between the two Seiko movements is a date complication, but otherwise they’re the same. Both have Seiko’s Diashock shock resistance (rivalling the Swiss Incabloc system) and can be hand-wound. Functions include central hours, minutes, seconds, and a date.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The RZE Endeavour Resolute’ Arctic Grey’ starts at USD 399 with a canvas strap but is only USD 482.60 if bundled with the titanium bracelet. I definitely prefer the bracelet as it looks (mostly) integrated with the case with its clever design and doesn’t add significant weight. It also comes with a Tarpaulin watch pouch.
Quick facts: 40.5mm diameter x 11.5mm height – titanium with ULTRAHex coating – sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating – titanium caseback with VITON gasket – 100m water-resistance – sand-textured grey dial with Super-LumiNova C3 and BGW9 – date at 3 o’clock – Seiko NH35A automatic – 24 jewels – 21,600vph (3Hz) – 41-hour power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds and date – titanium two-link bracelet with micro-adjustments – USD 482.60 (with bracelet)
RZE has a winning formula on its hands. The standard, across-the-board use of titanium and mix of Super-LumiNova colours are certainly unusual for a microbrand, and the company is punching above its weight class. For less than USD 500, you’re getting very capable watches that shine in their respective categories. Titanium is usually an upgraded material for just a selection of watches within a portfolio, and RZE also hardens the metal with its ULTRAHex coating. These are not the only affordable titanium watches like the Citizen Super Titanium Mechanical NH9120 Collection and others show, but it’s a great achievement for such a new brand. If you’re in the market for an affordable titanium dive or field watch, RZE should definitely be on your shortlist.
For more information and to make a purchase, please visit the RZE website.