The Urbanist is the latest release from RZE, and we think it might be the perfect “grab and go” watch. As you’ll soon discover, this is a fantastic everyday watch with an easygoing solar-powered movement. Best of all, the movement is guaranteed for life. Did we mention that it’s also affordable?

We certainly enjoy RZE here at Fratello. The microbrand focuses on sporty titanium watches that are meant to be used, and we’ve been impressed with both the quality and approachability of these offerings. Recently, we worked with RZE on the Resolute Pro “Contour,” and it was well-received. Today’s RZE Urbanist keeps the string of desirable releases rolling with a watch so straightforward that it could act as the poster child for the “set it and forget it” genre.

RZE Urbanist

The RZE Urbanist

Until now, the RZE watches we’ve reviewed have featured automatic mechanical or standard (non-rechargeable) battery-powered quartz movements. The RZE Urbanist strays from this and uses a solar-powered quartz movement. It also hits upon a popular trend related to downsizing as the Grade 2 titanium case is just 36mm in diameter. If you’re at all like me, this sounds quite good so far!

RZE created the Urbanist for so-called “urban explorers,” but I think this watch will work for any activity in the city or on the trails. The 31g titanium case is available with a choice of two different coatings. The brand’s proprietary UltraHex is found on cases that appear as natural titanium. Cerakote is another option that brings light or dark olive hues to the case. Either way, the coating options bring the surface hardness up to 1,200 Vickers to help resist scratches.

RZE Urbanist

Plenty of color options

The RZE Urbanist has a sand-textured dial with 3D Arabic-numeral indices and an inner-printed 24-hour track. The indices, large sword hands, and seconds hand contain Super-LumiNova that glows green or blue depending on the model. Note the step in the dial that separates the Arabic numerals from the minute track. When it comes to available dial colors, there are many. The UltraHex cases come with yellow, black, or navy dials. The dark olive Cerakote is paired with an onyx dial, and the lighter olive case is fitted with a khaki dial. These latter pieces are denoted as special editions, with a portion of the sales proceeds benefitting charity. All watches come on an 18mm-wide black nylon pass-through strap with a black DLC-coated pin buckle that brings the total weight up to 42 grams.

The dial styling is reminiscent of classic military watches, but the case shape is quite angular and modern. This mix works well, though. Other niceties include a black DLC-coated screw-down crown and a titanium screw-in case back. Thankfully, the RZE Urbanist doesn’t cheap out with a mineral crystal but features a flat sapphire lens with an antireflective coating on its inner surface. All of these elements come together to offer water resistance to 100 meters.

Solar is the way

Non-mechanical watches have found increasing acceptance over the past several years. It’s a good thing because there is a place for these watches. The problem, as I’ve often found, is that a collector needs to “keep up” with a collection of standard battery-powered watches to ensure one hasn’t died. It’s a first-world problem, but the years can slip by, and suddenly, there’s battery leakage, and a watch is fit for the bin. Solar goes a long way toward solving that problem and helps avoid opening a watch case at some point. I’ve noticed that when we cover a traditional battery-powered quartz watch, our commenters request solar power with alarming frequency.

Perhaps RZE was listening to these requests because the Urbanist is fitted with a Miyota solar-powered quartz movement. After 10 seconds of exposure, the movement will fire up and keep running. Best of all, RZE has warrantied these movements for life. With no date to change, if the movement does stop, it’s simple enough to reset.

RZE Urbanist wrist shot

The RZE Urbanist comes in a very wearable size

The 36mm RZE Urbanist has a 42mm lug-to-lug length and is just 11mm thick. The pass-through strap adds thickness, but the wearer can easily swap it for an 18mm two-piece strap. Some may see this watch as too small, but it works perfectly under a sleeve. Also, with such low weight, it can be difficult to recall whether one is wearing a watch. That may not be an ideal trait every day, but there are plenty of occasions for which something simple and carefree is desirable.

Pricing and availability

The RZE Urbanist will debut on Kickstarter on April 24th, 2024. The UltraHex models will have a pre-order price of US$219 (US$259 is the regular price), while the Cerakote pieces will sell for US$279. RZE expects shipping to begin in July 2024. Suffice it to say, I’m a huge fan of these latest RZE watches. In fact, they remind me of my Citizen Promaster Tough Eco-Drive, a watch I wear a lot. Coincidentally, that watch also has a Miyota solar movement. The RZE offers less water resistance, but a 100m rating should be enough for almost everyone. This watch is also less expensive and smaller. In the end, this is a great release that should fare well. There’s not much to dislike here.

For more information on the RZE Urbanist, visit the official RZE website.

Watch specifications

Onyx, black, navy, yellow, or khaki sand-textured dial with 3D embossed numerals and Super-LumiNova
Case Material
Grade 2 titanium coated with UltraHex or Cerakote (up to ~1200Hv hardness)
Case Dimensions
36mm (diameter) × 42mm (lug-to-lug) × 11mm (thickness, including crystal)
Sapphire with underside Super-AR coating
Case Back
Titanium, screw-in
Miyota solar-powered quartz movement
Water Resistance
10 ATM (100 meters)
Double-pass nylon strap (18mm width) with DLC-coated titanium hardware
Time only (hours, minutes, seconds)
US$219 pre-order or US$259 regularly (UltraHex models) / US$279 (Cerakote models)
Two years (24 months) on the watch, lifetime warranty on the movement
Special Note(s)
Available for pre-order on Kickstarter on April 24th, 2024; shipping expected July 2024