MICRO MONDAYS: The RZE Fortitude delivers a rugged pilot’s watch for under $500Ricardo Sime
What is it about pilot watches that makes them so popular? Is it their historically superior legibility? Maybe it’s the incorporation of aeronautical elements into the design? Or is it that utilitarian aesthetic that speaks to everyone’s collector spirit? Whatever the reasons are, it’s impossible to not see how passionate people get about their pilot watches. It’s that passion, sprinkled with some superior specifications, that RZE wants to capture with their new RZE Fortitude collection. Let’s see if these watches are fit for take off.
In releasing the Fortitude, RZE aims to create a durable, tough and over-qualified pilots watch. That begins with the case, which is made of Grade 2 Titanium and coated with Ultrahex. This means you get both a light and scratch-resistant case. A case that has all the right measurements at 41mm across, 12.45mm thick, and a 48mm lug-to-lug. All while providing anti-magnetism up to 20,000 a/m.
In terms of finishes, the case is satin-brushed and features well-defined edges with slightly twisted lugs, that are also drilled. It’s capped off by a bezel that has a turbine blade design which goes right in line with the pilot theme. That design continues to the screw-down crown that aids the watch in achieving 100 metres of water resistance. One neat feature of that crown is the red coloured tubing, ensuring you will always notice if is not screwed down all the way.
As we make our way in from the case, we’re met with the RZE Fortitude dials. They’re beautifully displayed behind an underside AR-coated sapphire crystal and come in four distinct colours presented in a fumé pattern. There is the white, fully lumed CruiserWhite, the black Nighthawk and a grey dial version called the NimbusGrey. And to round it all out, we have the teal coloured TurboTeal. All four feature a sandy texture, a colour-matched date located at 6 o’clock and lumed hands. The lume being used is Grade A BGW9 Swiss Super-luminova, which, not including the CruiserWhite, glows through a sandwich dial.
Powering the Fortitude collection is a microbrand mainstay; the venerable NH35A movement. The movement is an unbranded version of manufacturer Seiko’s calibre 4R35 and sits behind a closed caseback. It beats at 21,600 bph and provides 41 hours of power reserve. It’s a perfect choice for the Fortitude with its relative low cost and easy serviceability, aspects that keep the overall watch affordable.
To complete the package, RZE places the Fortitude on a titanium three-link bracelet that features the same Ultrahex coating as the case. The bracelet here is tapered in an interesting way, with the centre link remaining the same size. It is the links on the flanks that decrease in width as you travel away from the case. This creates an interesting effect on the eyes and a more seamless looking transition from case to bracelet. Completing the bracelet and keeping the watch secured on your wrist is a flip-lock buckle, which is an upgrade from the brand’s previously used clasps.
Overall, the RZE Fortitude is a great addition to the brand’s catalogue. It has the pilot watch look with specs that should get you through pretty much any situation you could throw at it. You get anti-magnetism that should be good enough for a pilot and more than good enough for the common desk warrior. Add to that a scratch-resistant coating that will stand up to the surfaces of a cockpit as well as the sleek metal trim of a gaming laptop. When summed up, the Fortitude is truly just another example of how microbrands aim to dominate the technical categories, constantly reinforcing the value proposition they bring. So if you’re currently looking for a pilot watch to add to your collection, take full advantage of this fact and see if the Fortitudes are right for you.
RZE Fortitude Price and Availability:
The RZE Fortitude, in all its different flavours, will be available on their website on December 13th. Pricing will be $499 USD. On December 31st, pricing will increase to $599 USD.
Made in partnership with RZE Watches. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.