Exclusively working in titanium, RZE produces a wide variety of different tool watches that consistently deliver strong value for the money. Additionally, given that the brand’s founder Travis Tan works as a commercial airline pilot, RZE naturally offers a pilot’s model as part of its lineup, and the Fortitude is its series of aviation timepieces that offer a distinctly modern and utilitarian design. For its latest release of 2024, RZE has created an updated version of its signature pilot’s watch that incorporates the independently adjustable local hour hand Miyota 9075 GMT movement, and the new RZE Fortitude GMT builds upon the core design of the inaugural model with significantly expanded travel-oriented functionality.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the new RZE Fortitude GMT very much falls in the footsteps of the original three-handed Fortitude pilot’s watch that first appeared in 2021, although it has received several subtle updates in regards to its proportions and dial layout. Just like all of RZE’s timepieces, the new Fortitude GMT is crafted entirely from grade 2 titanium that has been given the brand’s proprietary UltraHex coating, which increases the surface hardness of its components up to 1,200Hv (approximately eight times harder than traditional stainless steel). However, rather than having a matte sandblasted finish like many of RZE’s entry-level models, the Fortitude GMT has entirely brushed surfaces (similar to the RZE Resolute Pro), and this provides it with a slightly more refined and elevated appearance, while simultaneously still feeling like a rugged no-frills tool watch.

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Despite the increased functionality of its traveler-style GMT movement, the new RZE Fortitude GMT is actually nearly half a millimeter thinner than its time-and-date predecessor, and its case measures 41mm in diameter by 12mm thick, with 20mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug profile of 47mm. The top of the case is fitted with a flat sapphire crystal that has anti-reflective treatment on its interior surface, and this is surrounded by a fixed bezel with horizontal grooves inspired by the appearance of jet turbines. Meanwhile, the reverse side of the Fortitude GMT receives a solid screw-down titanium caseback, and at the 3 o’clock location is a large signed crown that screws down to help guarantee 100 meters of water resistance. Additionally, the crown tube on the Fortitude GMT is finished bright red as a subtle nod to the “Remove Before Flight” tags that can be found inside aircraft cockpits, and this has been done as a way to alert owners when the winding crowns are unscrewed on their watches.

At the time of launch, the RZE Fortitude GMT is available with the choice of three different dial colors that include Turbo Teal, Night Hawk, and Crimson Red, plus an all-black Workbench Edition that will be limited to just 50 pieces. The Turbo Teal variant is the one featured here, and it showcases a grain-textured teal dial punctuated by small bright yellow accents that fades in a gradient effect to black along its outer edges. While the appearance of the Fortitude’s bezel has some undeniable visual overlap with what can be found on the Oris Propilot X series, the dial represents a significant departure, and it offers a noticeably more instrument-inspired appearance that doesn’t quite look like any other style of pilot’s watch dial. Additionally, while the overall design of the dial has largely been carried over from the original three-handed version of the model, it has received a few key updates to better complement its travel-oriented GMT functionality.

Just like its time-and-date predecessor, the dial fitted to the new RZE Fortitude GMT offers a sandwich-style construction, with recessed baton-shaped hour markers and a date window at the 6 o’clock location. However, unlike the original three-handed version of the Fortitude that had a circular date window, the new Fortitude GMT features a trapezoid-shaped aperture in its dial, and it reveals a calendar disc that has been color-matched to the accents on the watch. Similar to the original RZE Fortitude from 2021, a finely graduated minute track sits around the periphery of the dial, although the new Fortitude GMT has been updated to feature small Arabic numeral minute markings along the interior perimeter of its recessed indexes, and it also has a 24-hour scale for its GMT complication printed on the angled chapter ring surrounding the dial. Placing the obligatory 24-hour scale along the chapter ring (instead of on the bezel) affords the Fortitude GMT a greater degree of aesthetic versatility, and since the two hour hands are independently adjustable, the watch is already entirely capable of simultaneously displaying two different time zones.

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Sitting at the center of the dial on the new RZE Fortitude GMT are four distinctly shaped luminous hands, and while the standard trio dedicated to the local hours, minutes, and seconds have been carried over from the original time-and-date Fortitude model, they have now been joined by a fourth partially skeletonized 24-hour hand that appears in a contrasting color. The three primary hands feature white luminous tips with black-finished center sections, and on the Turbo Teal version of the Fortitude GMT, the 24-hour hand is finished bright yellow to offer increased visibility and to match the other small accents that appear throughout the dial. Additionally, while the majority of the hands and hour markers all glow blue in the dark, the Super-LumiNova that is applied to the 24-hour hand on the Fortitude GMT emits a green-colored glow to help offer additional contrast in low-light settings.

Fitted to the drilled 20mm lugs of the RZE Fortitude GMT is a three-link bracelet that is made from UltraHex-coated titanium with an entirely brushed finish to match the case of the watch. The overall appearance of the bracelet is largely identical to what can be found on the original three-handed Fortitude model from 2021 and just like before, it is constructed from completely solid components and uses single-sided screws for its removable links. The watch that was photographed for this review is a pre-production example, and it is therefore fitted with the older style of bracelet from its time-and-date predecessor. However, the updated bracelet for the new Fortitude GMT will include quick-release springbars built into its end-links to enable tool-free strap changes, and the clasp will be the same new-generation style that can be found on the RZE Endeavour Glacier series, which operates with a double push-button release and includes a very well-conceived incremental extension system.

Powering the RZE Fortitude GMT is the Miyota 9075 automatic GMT movement, which has been somewhat of a game-changer for the affordable side of the watch industry. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of 42 hours, the Miyota 9075 offers superior performance metrics compared to entry-level calibers from both Miyota and Seiko, although the key feature that makes the Miyota 9075 such a desirable option is that it includes traveler-style GMT functionality with an independently adjustable local hour hand that can be jumped forward or backward in one-hour increments. While this style of GMT movement is ideally suited for individuals who frequently find themselves traversing different time zones, it has only been in recent years that this functionality has become available to watches that cost less than several thousand dollars, and the Miyota 9075 allows the RZE Fortitude GMT to offer the same functionality as many of the industry’s most highly regarded travel watches, but at a price that is less than what the big-name luxury brands charge for a routine service.

RZE always seems to find a way to offer strong value for the money, and despite exclusively using hardened titanium for its watches, many of RZE’s models still end up being less expensive than similar timepieces from other brands that are crafted from traditional stainless steel. This sentiment certainly applies to the brand’s latest pilot’s watch release, and with an official retail price of $699 USD, the RZE Fortitude GMT is less expensive than the majority of other timepieces that also feature this highly popular travel-oriented movement. The RZE Fortitude series was created to be the brand’s dedicated lineup of pilot’s watches, and it offers a truly legitimate pedigree since it was actually designed by someone who works as a professional airline pilot. With that in mind, despite the widespread popularity of pilot’s watches among collectors and enthusiasts, not all that many people actually fly airplanes, and this latest update to the collection has allowed the RZE Fortitude to exit the cockpit, and become a highly capable multi-purpose travel watch. For more information on the RZE Fortitude GMT, please visit the brand’s website.

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