We love tool watches on Fratello. A huge number of our articles are dedicated to dive and sports watches that are capable of accompanying us on our daily adventures. Many of those watches are made from stainless steel, but we also love titanium as a material for tool timepieces. Within our team, we have several titanium fanatics. I’ve never been one of them. For years, I sat squarely on the fence. I love the color. I love the feel of it against my skin. And yet, I was never convinced by the weight. Thankfully, I was intrigued enough by the ambitious case shape of the RZE Resolute to shelve my misgivings and give this one a whirl…

Forget about the case material for a second. What I really love talking about is the subject of new brands. I am endlessly fascinated by companies creating a new character out of nothing. There is no heritage here. There is no real novelty. And yet there is something worthwhile. There is something about the design of this RZE model that piqued my interest and I’m really glad I got the chance to get it on my wrist.

…RZE Resolute is proof that such principles can be adhered to, even at this approachable price point.

By now, you may already know the key tenet of my personal design philosophy. Makers should not do something at all unless they can do it as well as it can be done. That seems to set an impossibly high bar (and a subjective one at that), but the RZE Resolute is proof that such principles can be adhered to, even at this approachable price point.


Being heard above the noise

We see countless microbrands churning out clone cases. It is boring. It is unambitious. There is nothing about that strategy that should be applauded. Those brands are not designing watches for the watch collecting community. In fact, they are preying on the uninformed, hoping to make a quick buck by convincing some poor watch muggle that their latest homage piece really is as good as a Rolex Submariner and it is the Rolex buyers that are the idiots in this equation.

It’s a real shame. Not only do brands like the above add nothing to the microbrand field, they actually detract from it. Creativity — real, genuine sparks of inspiration — are lost in the melee. Brilliant ideas are drowned out in the noise. And credible design is too often overlooked as it vyes for position in a crowded marketplace.


Familiar futurism

The RZE Resolute has a totally unique case shape. It is not without its peers, however. To me, it instantly recalled the Grand Seiko SBGV243 or SBGV245. I mean that as a huge compliment. The SBGV245 is one of my favorite Grand Seiko watches but it is perilously expensive “for a quartz watch”, or so the saying goes.


Interestingly, when you place the SBGV243/5 case next to the RZE Resolute, the similarities disappear. Rather than mirroring the GS in terms of angles or shapes, it simply evokes the same edgy, comfortable futurism I personally very much enjoy. And what do I mean by comfortable futurism? I mean that these watches both look like nothing we’ve ever seen before and yet feel familiar in some way. They are at once challenging and welcoming. It is, in a word, joyful.


Good design costs nothing but time

Good design costs nothing but time. Or, at least, the services of a good designer if you are not one yourself. Microbrand owners are keen to tell you about the humongous costs associated with starting a brand from scratch. These costs and the associated concerns are legit. However, nothing costs as much as failure. And, in this writer’s opinion, the best way to avoid failure is to put in the hard work (and the time) necessary to come up with a really good, crucially worthwhile design in the first place.


If the design is good and “within itself”, as in it can be realized without compromise, then success is more likely to follow. What we see here in the RZE Resolute appears simple on the surface. Except that it’s not. The result only appears that way because the design is good. It is novel. It is smart. And it was able to be realized exactly as its creators intended without cutting corners to keep the costs palatable.


A 3D appreciation

Having this piece in hand was time well spent. I was able to view it from many angles and to appreciate the precision of the machining. Anything less than sharp angles would have ruined this design. The surface finish (a very fine vapor blasting) accentuates these sharp changes in direction. Brushing would have highlighted (or created) too many flaws in the material or grain. The crisp corners would have been rounded, resulting in an ugly mess.

No, props must go to the designers of the RZE Resolute for their “total concept” approach. I’m not saying this is the best watch ever created, but for watches retailing for under €500 (considerably under €500 in this case), the RZE Resolute is a shining example of what can be achieved, if only you keep in mind your limitations.


Limitations are reality; reality isn’t always a bad thing

It always sounds negative to talk about limitations. However, acknowledgment of limitations is essential on the path to good design. Mastering those limitations and settling upon a route that does not make compromises but skilfully navigates every potential pitfall requires skill, patience, and a good deal of lateral thinking. We can see from this 40.5mm case, which wears much smaller than its dimensions suggest thanks to a stout 46mm lug-to-lug length. An 11.5mm thickness sounds much taller on paper than it appears in real life, with the matte surface finish reducing the visual impact even further.


The watch head sits on a 20mm strap, which means the more neutral colors (the gray and the white dials, for example) are real strap monsters. The standard strap tapers to 18mm at the buckle, which is a proprietary shape, engraved with the RZE logo, and also has a matching matte finish. The weight of this whole ensemble is a featherlight 65g on the wrist.

As you can see from the images, I’ve put my review sample on the gray elasticated strap as I think it tones down the vibrant red dial a bit better than the burgundy strap upon which the watch was delivered.


Spending money in the right places

RZE is a tool watch brand. The goal was to create tough, hardy watches that can literally take a battering. To ensure this is the case, RZE has coated the titanium case with an ULTRAHex coating, which gives the watch scratch resistance up to 1,200Hv. I’ve had a go at scratching the underside of the lugs with my strap change tool and I can confirm, the coating does its job handily. I’m always a bit conscious about pushing these tests too far, but it seems more than likely that this watch will hold up admirably when subjected to the daily knocks one might expect it to sustain.

A dazzling light show whenever dusk sets in.

For additional security, the crown is screw-down and the watch is water-resistant down to 100 meters. The case back is also closed and sealed with a VITON® gasket. Interestingly, the 12, 6, and 9 o’clock indices are double-lumed. By that I mean they are treated with both C3 and BG W9 lumes. The remaining indices and hands are coated with C3 lume (green glow), while the minute track and five-minute markers are in BG W9 (blue glow). The result? A dazzling light show whenever dusk sets in.

My kind of thing

I have one regret when it comes to this watch and that is that I didn’t request it on the bracelet. I do like these elastic straps (in the style of Erika’s Originals), and I find it really comfortable (especially given the watch’s lightness), but I want to have a go at scratching the buckle on the bracelet. As I spend most of my day hammering away on a Mac keyboard, the wide deployant buckles of my braceleted watches always end up scratched to high heaven. Could a ULTRAHex-coated RZE overcome this challenge?

I’ll let you know when I get the next model, the Endeavor on my wrist. If you’d like to read more about that model, check back on Monday, as it will be featuring as our watch of the week. If the Resolute is your jam, though, you can pick one up from the brand’s website for just $399. The bracelet costs 99 bucks more but looks well worth the dollars. Learn more about RZE watches here.