December 15, 2021
The RZE brand was established with the goal of creating exceptionally high-quality titanium watches that serve as both technical tool and stylish companion on any adventure. Building on the success of and feedback from its first three releases, RZE is now launching the Fortitude, a purpose-built pilot’s watch designed by the brand’s founder and professional airline pilot, Travis Tan. The Fortitude combines traditional pilot’s watch design cues with a distinctive twist that’s all RZE. Being designed by a pilot with first-hand knowledge of the needs of aviators and the brutal conditions to which their watches are subjected, the Fortitude is truly professional-grade. Featuring an anti-magnetic case and RZE’s signature UltraHex coating that provides ~1,200Hv of hardness, RZE’s modern and ultra-robust take on a pilot’s watch is available to order now.
While many brands will occasionally employ titanium in watchmaking, few brands are as committed to the material as RZE. And why not? Titanium offers a plethora of advantages over traditional materials like 316-L stainless steel — 45% lighter, yet even stronger, than stainless steel, it wears light on the wrist and is capable of withstanding the rigors of life in the cockpit (or on whatever adventure you choose). Coupled with titanium’s distinctive gunmetal hue, watches crafted from the material seem to visually announce their purpose-built intentions. The Fortitude is RZE’s fourth watch crafted from titanium, and the brand has learned a thing or two along the way.
In its first three releases, RZE opted for bead-blasted finishes — this is a common approach for titanium watches, in large part because it provides the watch with a professional, tool-like finish. However, in creating the Fortitude, RZE went with a satin finish that provides a more versatile and refined demeanor. Doing so is no easy task, as titanium finishing requires different equipment and techniques compared to stainless steel, due to the material’s unique properties. Luckily, the finishing will continue to look fresh and new, as RZE has finished the Fortitude with its signature UltraHex coating, which ups the hardness to an outstanding ~1,200 Hv hardness.
Designed around a 41mm case (48mm lug-to-lug, 12.45mm thickness, and 20mm lug width), the Fortitude clocks in with dimensions that will fit a wide range of wrist sizes, while providing plenty of real estate for the dial to shine. Looking at the case, your eye is instantly drawn to the milled turbine bezel — a clear indicator of the watch’s aeronautic intentions. In a nod to tradition, the Fortitude also includes an oversize crown, a feature made standard during the pioneering days of aviation when pilots needed to be able to easily grip and turn the crown while wearing thick, padded gloves. However, RZE has taken things a step further with its HexCrown; pop out the crown to set the time, and you’re met with a bright red crown tube inspired by the “Remove Before Flight” tags found in cockpits that are removed as part of the takeoff procedure. If you can see the red, that’s a quick and clear sign that you need to screw down the crown.
Because the RZE Fortitude was developed, first and foremost, as a professional pilot’s watch, RZE ensured that the Fortitude could more than withstand the strong magnetic fields that pose a constant challenge for aviators. Titanium already provides a degree of anti-magnetic protection; however, RZE takes this a step further with an anti-magnetic cage that provides the Japanese NH35 automatic movement with anti-magnetic protection up to 20,000 A/m. That’s five times the ISO standard for wristwatches. Even if you’re not piloting an aircraft at 40,000 ft, the anti-magnetic protection should add some peace of mind, providing protection against the daily barrage of electro-magnetic fields generated by smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices.
The RZE Fortitude is complemented by a titanium bracelet that features a modified three-link design with angled outer links. Listening closely to feedback from its customers, RZE has equipped the Fortitude with an upgraded flip-lock buckle that allows for easy release. Finished with satin brushing, the curves and facets on the bracelet and case work together to subtly capture and reflect light, adding an extra touch of elegance to the watch.
For a pilot’s watch, legibility is key and the Fortitude provides it in spades. RZE utilizes a sandwich dial that allows the amply applied Grade A BGW9 Super-LumiNova to shine through the hour marker cutouts in the dial (that pattern is reversed in the full-lume dial Cruiser White colorway). Paired with the oversized hands and crosshair dial, reading the time is instantaneous. To take functionality a step further without impairing legibility, the Fortitude features Arabic numerals at five-minute intervals across the rehaut, along with 13-24 numerals inset from the hours for quickly and easily telling military time.
The RZE Fortitude comes in four colorways: NightHawk, Nimbus Grey, Turbo Teal, and the full-lume dial Cruiser White. The first of the three each feature a highly textured dial, set off by a black rehaut, with the Turbo Teal and Nimbus Grey also fading to black towards the periphery of the watch, creating a fumé-like effect. Each colorway also features a color-matched date wheel — just one more little detail RZE was sure to get right.
The RZE Fortitude was created by a professional pilot, for professional pilots—or anyone else that’s looking for a reliable, well-crafted titanium timepiece to accompany them on any adventure. The Fortitude is now available for order, with prices starting at $499 USD. To learn more about RZE and place an order for the Fortitude, visit the brand’s website.
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