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RZE Aspirare

Tough & Light. Legible & Practical.

It always feels special to write about an RZE as it is the brand I first borrowed a watch from, a year before I officially started Mainspring. Its founder, Travis Tan, took a gamble by entrusting a self-appointed watch expert with barely any experience under his belt with their first model, the Resolute. The latter is the collection RZE started with many years ago by way of a successful Kickstarter campaign. And although the brand has released many models since, one thing has never changed: RZE makes robust, full-titanium sport and tool watches. I admire Travis’ commitment to always building his models around this core precept. 

So it won’t come as a surprise if today we take a look at yet another titanium tool watch from RZE, the Aspirare. Thus far, we’ve taken a look at four of RZE’s models for Mainspring, more recently the Endeavour Blaueis and Fortitude. The former was the brand’s first diver and the latter its first pilot watch. Travis saw there was something missing in the brand’s catalog—a beefy 300m underwater exploration tool—and he readily made one available to his fans. To be frank, the Aspirare is not for the faint of hearts yet, it's a compelling proposition given its $659 USD price tag and the plethora of specs and tricks it comes with. 

So without further ado, let’s dive in. (This one is getting old, ain’t it?) 


What makes the RZE Aspirare potentially not suited for all watch enthusiasts are its dimensions. Starting with a case diameter of 44mm, a lug-to-lug of 53mm, a thickness of 13mm and a lug width of 22mm. These measurements make the Aspirare the largest watch I’ve ever reviewed. The catch is, however, its relative lightness despite its dimensions: a maximum of 120g on the titanium bracelet with all spare links installed. Arguably, this is pretty light. And this lightness is made possible thanks to a Grade 2 titanium case and bracelet, complete with RZE’s proprietary UltraHex hardening coating on all surfaces. (Up to 1,200 Hv on Vicker’s hardness scale, compared to about 200Hv without.) 

RZE is the first brand I know of to have offered hardened titanium tool watches. And I can tell you that it works. I’ve reviewed all models from the brand for Mainspring and other magazines and not once did I find a scratch on the case or bracelet. This toughness is further emphasized by the use of sapphire for the crystal (with inner anti-reflective coating) and by the choice of the caliber within: the premium Miyota 9015 that beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and has 42 hours of power reserve. In my own humble experience, the 9015 is one of the most reliable and robust mechanical movements out there. (I’ll choose this one over a Sellita any day of the week.) 

And as you might have guessed, with such badass dimensions, the Aspirare comes with an equally impressive depth rating of 300 meters and generous applications of BGW9 and C3 lume. (BGW9 on the minute hands and bezel markings; C3 everywhere else.) Feature-wise, the Aspirare also comes with interchangeable bezel inserts (color-matched to the dial) as well as an on-the-fly micro-adjustment clasp. (What the brand calls “Ultra-Link.”) All of this obviously equals robustness, legibility, and durability. Again, Travis’ modus operandi which can be found on every model the brand has released thus far. 


Visually, the Aspirare is endowed with a pure soul of utilitarianism. First, the bead-blasted finish on the case and bracelet that makes it look and be tough, and which doesn’t reflect light (as to not give away your position should you find yourself in a combat situation.) The dial also comes with a matte, sandy finish for the same reason, as well as to make the large hands and applied hour markers stand out. All of these elements come with a black surrounds to insure superlative legibility. And even the date aperture comes with its own black-ops treatment: a black date-wheel with Arabic numerals printed in white. Although the date aperture is small relative to the dial and case, it remains rather legible. 

The handset has a bespoke design as indicated by RZE on its website, where the hour and minute hands have wide stems which taper down towards the tip. The latter ones perfectly match the width of the hour markers, and the minute hand reaches out all the way to the minute track. (I like how legible the minute hash-marks are painted in black.) Note the unusual design of the hour markers that are trapezoidal-shaped and of different sizes: the ones at the 3 and 9 positions are larger than the other while the marker at the 12 is quite massive. Being so large easily explains why the Aspirare aces the lume shot as seen below. 

As it is true of all RZE models, the Aspirare comes with an angular case which displays a rather complex alternation of chamfers of various sizes on the lugs, which help to visually reduce its visual footprint. Having short lugs, and having a flat belly, the Aspirare is rather comfortable to wear as it sits snug on the wrist. This is despite having a lug-to-lug of 53mm which is a lot for a small-wristed watch enthusiast like me (6.50”/16.5cm.) Overall, the Aspirare is massive and legible, having an equally functional 120-click unidirectional bezel made of either reinforced titanium or DLC-coated titanium. (As a reminder, bezels are interchangeable.) The bracelet also has a look of its own and I wouldn’t be able to describe what it's construction looks like even if my life depended on it! 

But I would say this: it looks as badass as the case does. Travis did not go for subtlety here. 

The Heart of the Matter

At the heart of the matter is the fact that RZE/Travis Tan continues to offer robust tool watches for the most adventurous of watch enthusiasts. Although the Aspirare is too large for me, I can easily see it fit comfortably on larger wrists. And while it is large and beefy, it is incredibly light, which is the big advantage of using Grade 2 titanium for the case and bracelet. In my experience, when brands use titanium for the case they don’t necessarily use it for the bracelet and bezel insert, which contradict—so to speak—the benefits of using this material in the first place. Furthermore, titanium bezels are known for not offering the most satisfying spinning action, but I can tell you RZE did a pretty good job here*. 

*It’s an improvement from the bezel action of the first Endeavour I reviewed a while back, which to be fair, was itself decent. 

The other point I would like to make here is the value you get from buying an RZE. While I know next to nothing about the price of things, I do know that titanium is more expensive than stainless steel. And I imagine that adding a hardness coating on the entirety of the watch adds a little extra cost, just like it would be true for endowing the hour markers and hands with generous applications of lume, and making the case water resistant to 300 meters. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that one can easily swap the bezel inserts without the need for tools, and that the bracelet comes with quick-release spring bars and tool-less micro-adjustment. 

And how much does the Aspirare cost again? Currently, $559 USD on a rubber strap, $659 USD on the titanium bracelet, and $699 USD for both. In my humble opinion, that’s great specs for the money you spend on a watch that has an original design. (The latter fact is priceless, by the way.) 


Naturally, we all decide what we want to strap on our wrists. Whether it be a 32mm World-War II inspired field watch like I do or a 44mm full-titanium diver like this RZE Aspirare. Although I have personally—and perhaps permanently—joined the modest but growing club of small watch enthusiasts, once in a while it does feel good to wear a larger and beefier watch. Especially if you go on actual adventures that require robustness, legibility, and lightness. Because at the end of the day, that’s what the Aspirare is: a tough tool watch. If one would only need one good tool watch in his or her collection, then this one could be it. 

If you want to learn more about RZE and the Aspirare, I suggest checking out the brand’s website here. Note that this model also comes with a black dial for the same price.

Thanks for reading.  


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