Hands-On With The RZE Valour Field 38 — A Modern Take On The Classic Field Watch Blueprint
I have been a keen follower of RZE since its debut. I have previously reviewed a few other watches from the young microbrand, and each one left a positive impression. The RZE Valour Field 38 watch is no exception to that pattern. With that in mind, let me say something about this watch — it is not a game changer. Don’t expect it to redefine any aspect of the watch industry in 2022. But, similarly, don’t be disappointed by this as that’s not RZE’s intent with the Valour Field 38.
RZE has always aimed to produce well-built titanium watches that can faithfully accompany their owners in their day-to-day lives. The brand tries to offer watch styles that suit everyone’s taste, all while being fully capable of surviving whatever life throws at you. Be that an active outdoor lifestyle or the perils of parenthood and the challenges that small children can present to our watch collections, RZE watches are up to the task.
The Valour Field 38 is nothing if not legible!
Not everyone likes the simplistic legibility of a field watch, and that’s fine. In that case, RZE has pilot, sports, and dive watches that may be more your thing. But, for the field watch lovers among us, the Valour Field 38 is an excellent combination of the genre’s classic style and RZE’s tool-watch ethos. There’s a lot to like for its very accessible price point, too, with a solid NH38A automatic no-date movement and a titanium case with RZE’s proprietary scratch-resistant coating. In a world where value for money is the most important thing to many buyers, RZE aims to please.
A titanium field watch with modern, sporty vibes
As mentioned, the watch itself isn’t groundbreaking, but it has a nicely proportioned case with a distinctly sporty vibe and lovely, sharp details, too. The case is 38mm wide and titanium, making it a perfect lightweight summer watch. It has a screw-down crown and case back, giving 100 meters of water resistance. The watch is nice and compact, with a lug-to-lug measurement of 45mm and a thickness of 11mm. This will undoubtedly appeal to those who prefer smaller-sized watches. When Tudor dropped the new Ranger, which is 39mm, there was much chatter that 37mm or 38mm would have been better for a field watch design. Hopefully, RZE will have a few happy campers thanks to its decision to go with 38mm.
The case has a nice and simple crown guard, which is perhaps why it feels a little sportier than traditional field watch cases — that and the nice beveling in the upper and lower edge of the case side. Not everyone will like this modern take on a classic field watch blueprint, but it all feels very in keeping with RZE’s designs. In my opinion, that’s important. Brands, especially microbrands, should never ignore their identity in pursuing watch design. A watch must feel like a part of the wider collection, and RZE has always done well in maintaining this focus.
Five dial colors for the Valour Field 38
RZE will offer the Valour Field 38 in five different matte dial colors — blue, green, gray, yellow, and white. Obviously, I have the white version in for review today. I’m glad to report that the other dials (barring the yellow) are not brightly colored and do not jump on board with the current trend we’ve seen recently. The green and blue are relatively deep and dark. The gray is dusty and muted. For a field watch, bright colors wouldn’t have felt appropriate, so I am glad that RZE resisted the urge to go all in with bright and bold options. The yellow dial is, of course, bright, but RZE has always offered yellow dials in its collections.
The dial is straightforward, as you’d expect from a field watch. Large Arabic numerals populate the hour track with their smaller 24-hour counterparts just inside. I initially expected the white dial to be fully lumed, but it is not. With the numbers being matte black to allow easy reading against the black background, the only lume on the dial is on the small hour markers nestled among the minute track on the outer edge. Due to their size, they fade pretty quickly when the lights go out. Thankfully, the hands are well-lumed, so they stay “on” a lot longer. From what I can tell, the large numerals on the blue, green, and gray dials might be lumed, but I am not certain of this.
Branding is kept to an absolute minimum. Looking carefully, you’ll see that the hour marker at 6 o’clock is a little RZE logo. I’m not too fond of over-branded watches, and RZE has always erred on the side of under-branding. I, for one, appreciate this, and even more so with a field watch. As the wise Sweet Brown once said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Reliability over fanciness
With the Valour Field 38 being a no-date field watch, RZE opted for the NH38A inside. That means no ghastly phantom date position. It still surprises me just how many watches out there suffer from phantom date positions; it’s a major turn-off for me. The NH38A is another robust and “workhorse”-like movement from Seiko. It’s identical in size to the more commonly-used NH35A, the only differences being the lack of date and allowing for an open-heart display at 9 o’clock.
Some people still moan about these little Seiko movements, but I don’t really understand why. They’re easy to regulate, so while the out-of-the-box accuracy of -20 to +40 seconds per day is not fantastic, improving it is totally possible. If the movement breaks (which is unlikely as these things are very reliable), replacing it with a brand-new one is incredibly cheap. Cheap movement costs also help translate to lower overall costs, making for a less expensive product in the first place. With prices starting at $219, it’s tough to complain about much here.
The strap is comfortable if a little thick
RZE supplies the Valour Field 38 on a nice single-pass seatbelt NATO strap with matching matte titanium hardware and a branded buckle. The material is very comfortable on the wrist, but with it being a seatbelt-type weave, it’s relatively thick. I assume that’s why RZE opted for the single pass, but as a word of warning, it can be rather tricky to fold the excess strap length back into the keepers. It’s doable but not super easy. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to put whatever strap you want onto the watch due to the 20mm lug width. I could see a nice rubber NATO looking good, or perhaps even a sailcloth strap. The possibilities are endless.
RZE Valour Field 38 price and availability
The RZE Valour Field 38 launches on Kickstarter in early August 2022, with prices starting at US$219. I feel there’s a lot to like at that price, and it’s fair. I’ve been wearing the watch quite often and found it a great daily beater over the weekend when I’ve been out in the garden tackling the overgrown flowerbeds. So far, nothing has left a scratch on it thanks to RZE’s ULTRAHex scratch-resistant coating. If you’re looking for a watch that you can strap on and not worry about, perhaps the Valour Field 38 is worth a closer look.
You can learn more about the brand and the Valour Field 38 on the RZE website.