The Best Titanium Diver Made Better
There are trends in horology that come and go. It’s hard to keep up sometimes. Some trends are created and maintained by big-name brands such as Audemars Piguet, Rolex, and Seiko. And although others might follow suit, we all know where the trends originated from. The world of micro and independent brands is not deprived of having its own trends. For example, tool watches with cases and bracelets made of titanium; proprietary hardening coatings; unbeatable specifications-to-price ratio; and colorful dials. Although it is not the only one, RZE is the type of brand that has started many things that we now take for granted.
Before that RZE existed, few brands (if not just a couple) made full titanium watches topped with original designs. It just didn’t really exist. Now it is more popular because other independent and micro-brands were inspired by what RZE put out. And there is nothing wrong with it. Pretending that watch brands don’t inspire each other is akin believing that Toyota was not inspired by Ford and that Steve Jobs wasn’t inspired by Bill Gates—or vice versa. However inaccurate these comparisons may be, I think you know where I’m going with this.
My point is: RZE did not invent textured dials but they do know how to make it look as if they did. And pairing a unique dial texture and color with a full-titanium diver is rather neat. So today we’re taking a look at the Europe-only limited edition Endeavour Blaueis.
It might sound redundant to go over the basic specs of a RZE watch. But if you are new here or have never heard of RZE before, then you might enjoy this section. The Endeavour, just like any RZE models, is made of titanium that is protected against scratches thanks to UltraHex, the brand’s proprietary hardening compound. The latter raises the case and bracelet’s strengths to an impressive 1,200Hv on the Vickers scale (regular stainless steel only has 140Hv.) This means it’s virtually impossible to scratch the Endeavour even when you take the watch on your most rugged adventures. I’ve handled plenty of RZE watches in the past and I never saw one scratch disfigure the sandblasted titanium typically adorning their models.
Besides being light and durable, the Endeavour also comes with great proportions. The case measures 40.5mm in diameter, 46mm lug-to-lug, 12.5mm thick, and comes with 20mm lug width. It has 200 meters of water resistance thanks to a screw-down crown and case-back and weighs at most 110g on the bracelet. That is 40 to 60g lighter than a Submariner on the bracelet. Inside the lightweight and durable case beats the Seiko NH35A movement, a pragmatic movement that doesn’t have the best specifications in the world but that is robust, easy to service, and inexpensive.
Given that RZE designs watches that are made for adventure, you can expect the complete suite of over-the-top specifications. For example, a flat piece of sapphire crystal with an excessive amount of anti-reflective coating; a 120-click unidirectional titanium bezel with a fully-graduated count-up scale (my favorite!); a titanium bracelet with solid links and end links that are held together with screws; hips of lume and of two varieties (SuperLuminova C3 and BGW9); sand-blasted case and bracelet. I know, that’s a lot. With that said, I would like to make a quick note about the lume. C3 on the applied markers and hands; BGW9 on the 5-minute dots and a portion of the hour markers at the 12, 6, and 9 positions.
Being a brand that innovates and constantly pushes its own boundaries, RZE gave this new and fresh collection a brand new clasp. Gone are the days of the double-pusher deployant clasp with micro-adjust holes. No sir, no madam. Welcome to the world of on-the-fly micro-adjust clasp. You are correct, many brands have done it before, however RZE did it better than most. There is a small button one has to press down in order to extend the bracelet; no need to press anything to shorten it—you just have to push the bracelet back inside the claps while enjoying the satisfying ratcheting song of the mechanism. RZE managed to keep the clasp rather small and to make it so the mechanism does not extend past the clasp as it is the case with other brands.
Just want to say: bravo.
Alright, let’s move on to the design of the Endeavour Blaueis. If you know of the Endeavour collection, then you are already familiar with the dial layout. Applied hour markers that are rounded rectangles, pencil hour and minute hands, and a lollipop seconds hand. There is a framed date window at the 6 o’clock and a minimalist minute track on the outside of the dial. Rather straightforward design that is highly legible—as it should always be on a tool watch. The previous versions of the Endeavours came with colorful dial options, but being a boring Frenchman, I had fallen for their gray variant. However I always felt there was something missing, a little oomph that would set it apart from the many sterile tool watches that exist on the saturated independent watch market. Well, RZE has made a pretty bold move by adding textured dials on the new 2023 Endeavour. (Here I’m not talking about a sandy texture but something much more intricate.)
As mentioned above, textured dials are not new, especially the ones that evoke features from the natural world. Snowflakes, wood, water, and now windswept glaciers are common sights. However it is pretty neat that RZE created an entire collection around the theme of glaciers. The new 2023 Endeavour Glacier Collection comprises five models each paying homage to a different mountain of ice: the white dial ice-blue Vatnajökull is named after Europe’s largest glacier in Iceland; the teal blue Yulong after snow-capped mountain ranges in Southern China; the black Tronador after a group of eight glaciers in the Andes; the white Ross Ice after the largest ice shelf in Antarctica; and last but not least, the dark blue Blaueis named after the northernmost glacier in the Bavarian Alps in Germany.
So not all glaciers per se but definitely freezing-cold places.
The texture on the Blaueis looks either like windswept snow atop a glacier, tree bark, or the veins of a half-frozen stream high up in the mountains. Regardless of what it looks like to you, the texture is mesmerizing to look at, especially at an angle. This is when the light catches the dial in a way that it casts subtle shadows in-between the elements of the texture. While looking straight down the dial the texture tends to disappear a little, especially in low-lit environments. As mentioned above, this new dial is more interesting to look at than the first generation of Endeavors. Despite the new dial that I assume is more difficult to manufacture, RZE didn’t jack up its prices (more on that later.)
The Heart of the Matter
At the heart of the matter is the fact that RZE combined its most robust watch with a new dial texture that enlivens an otherwise utilitarian design. Moreover, this is the first collection to come with an on-the-fly micro-adjust clasp which fans of the brand have been asking for for a long time. This shows that RZE listens to its fan base and takes its time to do things right. If it had wanted to rush making this type of clasp, it would have released it last year when more micro and independent brands were already offering it. RZE, however, waited and actually released a clasp that is better than most that I have come across from brands that sell watches at the same price or above.
Yes, we need to talk about money otherwise you would be wondering what was the point of this review. The Blaueis is currently available for pre-order at the price of roughly $435 on the rubber strap,$545 on the titanium bracelet, and $590 on the bracelet + rubber. Full retail prices will be as follows: $492, $600, and $643 respectively. These are the same prices as the first generation of Endeavors that came with matte dials albeit with funky colors. This is rather impressive to me as brands tend to hike their prices whenever upgrading an existing collection. With the Endeavour Glacier collection, RZE not only added a complex dial texture but also a brand new clasp mechanism which makes the Endeavour an even more capable tool watch.
While the four other models from the Glacier collection are not limited, the Blaueis is. To 99 units for European customers only. So, if you are interested in this little guy I recommend visiting RZE’s website sooner rather than later. With deliveries estimated for June of 2023, you won’t have to wait too long to strap this model on your wrist. If you like dive watches, titanium, good price-to-specs ratio, and texture dials, I would be hard pressed to find a better deal than the new 2023 Endeavour Glacier models and this Blaueis in particular.
Thanks for reading.