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RZE Aspirare Watch Review

RZE Aspirare

If you’ve ever gone hunting for an accessible field watch – the kind you can put through its paces without the guilt that comes with beating up anything with a bit of prestige to it – then you’ll have likely come across RZE. Their Valour 38 is a contender for the best $300 of stripped-back tool watch you can get, right down to its titanium case and colourful dials. Yeah, I’m a fan. So how does the new RZE Aspirare stack up?

Well, it’s important to note that it’s not just the bang for buck nature of the watches I like though, but the size. RZE have a propensity for smaller diameters, which fits my emaciated wrists nicely. Anything over 42mm often looks silly on me (except for some notable exceptions I’ll brush on later) and I tend to err on the diminutive over the bulky. But I’m well aware other watch lovers think otherwise. Apparently, a good cross-section of those other watch lovers have been giving their feedback to RZE, as the shiny new Aspirare is their largest timepiece yet at 44mm

RZE Aspirare
RZE Aspirare

It might not seem massive, but by RZE standards it’s a big step up and has the aesthetic impact to match. That said, it’s not heavy by any means, in part because of the bead-blasted grade 2 titanium that makes up the case, an RZE signature, and for the slim, 13mm profile. In fact, from the side it’s positively svelte. From the front however there’s something of the Seiko Prospex about the Aspirare, and not just for that four o’clock crown. The distinctive, faceted look and feel of the watch are more in line with the accessible Japanese stalwart – and that’s no bad thing. Far from it, in fact.

It’s as practical as ever, too. The case has been given RZE’s own UltraHex coating – essentially another layer of honeycombed titanium to act as an extra safety blanket – and offers a more-than-respectable 300m water resistance. It’s a proper diver and feels it. That’s also true of the colourway, a simple and practical combo of high-contrast white on black with a cool, textured dial. The indexes are particularly fun, chunky and oversized like any uncompromising diver, but with a massive cartouche-esque index at 12 o’clock that makes the layout RZE’s own.

RZE Aspirare

So far, so good – if nothing particularly stand-out in the wider pantheon of dive watches. What you don’t get on first glance though is that the bezel is interchangeable. There are a smattering of customisable watches in this vein out there, but not generally divers, where the bezel is so specific – unidirectional, 120-clicks. The fact that you can just click off the bezel and switch up the look while maintaining all the practical necessities of a tried-and-true diver is pretty damn impressive.

Personally, I’m not sure how much I’d flip between bezels. Every time I’ve worn a customisable watch, I’ve switched plenty in the first couple of days before getting bored of the process and just leaving it on my favourite. It’s always a cool idea – I particularly like Certina’s version, the DS+ – but it’s a novelty more than anything. It’s a nice thing to have, but for me at least doesn’t factor into the watch as a whole. The piece we have here is a prototype, but most of the details will be carried over to the production version. The only real change will be quick-release spring bars to give you another outlet for easy customisation. The bracelet that comes with the Aspirare is fantastically well-machined  titanium, but I imagine it would look killer on a black-and- green NATO.

RZE Aspirare
RZE Aspirare

Now, I mentioned earlier that I tend to avoid larger watches, with a couple of exceptions. Despite its downright stupid size, I love Seiko’s PADI Tuna Can, just because of how it feels on the wrist. It’s not fitting under a sleeve any time soon, but it’s far more comfortable than it has any right to be. There are echoes of that here. At first – in part due to loving the Valour 38 – I thought a 44mm RZE diver would just be too much but, after scant hours of it on the wrist I’ve been converted.

As ever, RZE’s latest is also incredibly accessible. A large part of that is due to opting for a Miyota movement over the more common and pricier Sellita, but the 9015 is nevertheless a reliable workhorse, in this instance graced with a custom date wheel. And hey, given you can grab the Aspirare for just $639 (approx. £515), that’s a compromise I’m more than willing to make.

Price & Specs:

  • Model: RZE Aspirare
  • Case/dial: 44mm diamater x 13mm thickness, titanium case, black dial
  • Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
  • Movement: Miyota calibre 9015, automatic
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
  • Power reserve: 42h
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Strap: Titanium bracelet with quick adjustment dive buckle
  • Price/availability: $639 (approx. £515)

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.