The Resolute is RZE’s highly original take on a classic field watch, a style that originated with durable, accurate timepieces originally intended for military use. However, this is neither an old design resurrected from dusty government archives, nor some retro throwback. On the contrary, with its angular case geometry and sand-textured dial, it’s a modern and striking-looking watch.
The brand behind the Resolute is independent microbrand RZE, founded in 2020. And the man behind the brand is Travis Tan, a genuine watch nut, qualified airline pilot and all-round nice guy. Travis isn’t new to the watch world – he was one of the founders of highly-regarded microbrand BOLDR Supply Co. Together with a small team based in Singapore and Malaysia, he set up RZE with a new mission to build durable, versatile and sustainable watches.
Key to this is the brand’s choice of material. All their watches are crafted from titanium, which fulfils the brief for strength and durability, while also being lightweight – meaning you hardly feel an RZE watch on your wrist. For the brand, this has another benefit: they say that titanium’s longevity should also help to reduce unnecessary waste.
Unusually for a watch brand, and especially for a small, independent watch brand, RZE has a commendable focus on sustainability. As their mission sets out: “We deliberately choose materials that stand the test of time, every step of the way, from minimising waste to minimising our carbon footprint in the transportation process.” They’ve taken another step in this regard by partnering with EcoCart to offer customers the option to offset the carbon footprint of their order. Contributions help to fund projects including mangroves restoration in Myanmar. The Resolute also comes packaged in an upcycled tarpaulin watch case.
Who is the RZE Resolute Field Watch For?
The brand calls it “the one tool watch to rule them all”. It’s a bold claim, but when you examine the Resolute’s ultra-durable titanium case with its scratch-resistant coating, then hold it in your hand and note its featherlight weight, it all starts to stack up. This is a watch that seems well equipped for use as a daily beater, and the versatile office-to-outdoor design only adds to that. This is a real all-rounder for modern adventurers; a field watch for post-millennials.
The fact that the titanium case houses a dependable, wrist-powered automatic movement arguably makes it even more attractive. In short, if you’re a dedicated ultralighter with a committed ‘fast and light’ approach to all your outdoor adventures and a propensity to head off the beaten track, we reckon the RZE Resolute will undoubtedly appeal. This is a watch for which the notion of going ‘off grid’ does not pose a problem. And you can’t say that about your £700 smartwatch, can you?
The case is made from Grade 2 titanium with a matte blasted finish. Titanium, as many ultralight backpackers will be aware, is far lighter than stainless steel or even aluminium, yet has exceptional strength-to-weight and corrosion resistance, often exceeding that of stainless steel in most environments. It’s also anti-magnetic and hypoallergenic.
“Its low weight also makes it a very comfortable companion in the field or as a daily driver.”
That makes it a premium choice for most everyday carry gear, including watches. This typically adds cost too, in part because machining titanium requires coated carbide tools to resist heat build-up and maintain smooth, clean surfaces. It’s been used in watch cases for over half a century by mega-brands like Citizen, but it’s impressive that a smaller brand like RZE has also been able to utilise it at an accessible price.
If titanium has a drawback compared to steel, it is that it tends to show scuffs and scratches more easily. To counteract this, the entire watch has been treated with RZE’s proprietary ULTRAHex coating, which they boast is eight times stronger than steel (1200Hv on the Vickers scale). For the sake of comparison, on the Vickers scale, 316L Stainless Steel is around 140Hv, sapphire crystal around 2500Hv, and diamond – pretty much the hardest natural substance on Earth – around 10,000Hv.
The Resolute has a chunky, screw down crown protected by crown guards, plus a screw-down caseback – also made of titanium. The caseback employs a high-quality Viton sealing gasket, which helps to ensure a 100m water resistance rating. That’ll be fine for surviving downpours as well as dips in mountains tarns or lakes. The result is an extremely solid and robust adventure-proof watch that weighs a mere 65g – a true featherweight.
Despite its low weight, however, the Resolute has plenty of wrist presence. Much of that is down to its distinctive looks. The case is a masterpiece of modern geometry, with sharply machined angles that create a striking and futuristic aesthetic – it’s a little bit Star Wars, like the blunt nose of an X-wing starfighter.
A fairly thin, angled bezel surrounds the relatively large dial, which comes in either carbon black, alpine white or arctic grey. All have an unusual sand textured surface that adds plenty of visual interest as well as practicality, dampening glare and refraction in harsh sunlight. The handset is brushed steel, with index-style hour and minute hands and a lollipop seconds hand. Hour and minute hands are generously in-filled with lume, as is the lollipop tip of the seconds hand. The crystal is a bevelled sapphire with an anti-reflective coating on the inner surface, again ensuring excellent legibility, even from acute angles.
The Resolute is supplied as standard with an ultra-rugged canvas strap, which features a matching titanium buckle and stitched, reinforced strap holes, as well as a leather backing for added comfort. It’s undeniably a beast of a strap, but that also makes it stiff and fairly unforgiving until it’s been properly worn in.
The alternative is to pay a little more and upgrade to a matching titanium bracelet, which – having tried and tested both options – we would heartily recommend. As well as giving the Resolute a more classic sports/tool watch look and feel, the bracelet itself is of extremely high quality. Comprised of titanium H-links with solid endlinks that integrate seamlessly with the case, it’s both lightweight and comfortable to wear. The closure is a steel divers’-style foldover milled and signed clasp made from stainless steel, perfectly finished to match the case and bracelet, with four micro-adjustment holes for a precise fit. The clasp offers more security than a standard button-release clasp, which adds peace of mind for outdoor adventures. The whole bracelet has been treated with the same UltraHex hardened coating as the watch itself. All in all, it’s an addition that significantly elevates what is already a great watch to something truly outstanding.
The case is 40.5mm in diameter, with a lug-to-lug measurement of 46mm, which is slightly larger than most classic field watches. On the other hand, it’s a size that is well-suited to modern tastes, giving plenty of room to accommodate the applied baton indices and the 3 o’clock date window without the dial feeling cluttered.
Thanks to sharply angled lugs, it actually wears very well even on smaller wrists. The case is well-proportioned and even at 11.5mm, doesn’t feel too thick or ungainly – helped, of course, by its ultralight all-titanium build. All in all, it’s a nicely sized package.
A field watch should prioritise instant legibility – you should be able to read the precise time at a glance, even from acute angles, including in low light conditions. The RZE Resolute delivers in all respects without exception, despite some unusual design features. The most noticeable of these is its spartan dial. Somewhat unusually for a field watch, the dial is completely bereft of hour numerals, where you might expect 3, 6, 9 and 12 markers at least. Indeed, compared to a classic field watch design like the Hamilton Khaki, which has a standard 12-hour track and an additional 24-hr ring, the Resolute’s dial is positively minimalist.
Instead, you get applied and lumed baton indices, with a double baton at 12 o’clock to help orientate the watch in the dark and quickly discern the time. Surrounding this is a small but crisply printed minute track, which does include some numerals in the form of 15, 30, 45 and 60-second markers at the cardinal points. You also get a useful date window at 3 o’clock, which is colour-matched to work harmoniously with the rest of the dial. The window itself is edged with an applied surround that some watch reviewers have criticised, arguing that it reduces readability. While we do agree, from a design standpoint the date surround acts as a visual counterpoint to the hour batons, delivering better overall balance, while also echoing the angled lines of the case.
What about when darkness descends? For us, this is the acid test for a true field or adventure watch. Basically, any proper adventure companion needs decent lume – and we’re pleased to say that the RZE Resolute gets a glowing report in this department, literally. It utilises a combination of Super-LumiNova C3 and BGW9 compounds, delivering a night-time light show in dual colours. The hands and indices glow a soft but highly visible green, while the outer track and seconds hand are blue.
In common with numerous other automatic timepieces in our toughest outdoor watches test, the Resolute is powered by a Japanese Seiko NH35A movement – a 21,600 bph, 24 jewel calibre. It’s a widely-used movement that is easy to service or replace – but thanks to its robust build and Diashock protection, it rarely needs either.
The NH35 hacks, which means the seconds hand stops when you pull the crown out for precise time setting. It can also be hand-wound, so you can use the crown to wind the mainspring in addition to charging it via natural hand movement, just like any other automatic watch. Lastly, it has a decent power reserve of up to 41 hours. Oh, and it should be reasonably accurate for a mechanical timepiece – quoted tolerances for the movement are between -20 and +40 seconds per day. Ours was well inside that range and gained an average of 13 seconds per day over a test period of a couple of months.
The Resolute’s titanium case makes it a great tool watch. Its low weight also makes it a very comfortable companion in the field or as a daily driver. Similarly, the functional dial layout stays true to the principles of a field watch, but modern design touches add style and sophistication too. Indeed, the considered design is perhaps the standout attribute of the Resolute.
It’s original, contemporary, striking and well-resolved. With this watch, RZE have forged their own distinctive style rather than merely assimilating various traits of other field watches. So, this watch is not merely a homage to more expensive brands and references. It’s a watch that stands on its own, and in that sense, it should get kudos from watch nerds. But ultimately, it’s just a great little tough, rugged and handsome timepiece for modern adventurers.
The RZE Resolute is priced at £304, with free worldwide shipping – though UK customers will need to add 20% VAT and 2.5% customs duties to that price.
Price: £304 / Sandblasted Grade 2 titanium case, UltraHex 1200Hv scratch resistant coating / Screw down titanium caseback with Viton sealing gasket / Date function / Seiko SII NH35A automatic movement / 100m/10 ATM water resistance / Flat sapphire crystal with inner AR coating / Signed, knurled crown / Leather-backed canvas strap with titanium hardware / Optional extra: UltraHex titanium H-Link bracelet (+£53).