Many times a day we may glance at our watch. Whether it’s to check the time, admire the dial, or ponder the future, we often overlook the fine details and individuals behind the watch. While it’s hard to ignore commercial marketing and the faces of brand ambassadors, when it comes to microbrands the story adds a whole new dimension to the brand experience.
Here at RZE, we lean into being an adventure brand. Embodying a sense of exploration with our watches’ rugged durability; every detail of the watches has been painstakingly considered by our brand’s founders, Travis and Clarence. When one looks at the Fortitude it’s obvious that it draws inspiration from iconic pilot's watches, but beneath the surface are connections to something much deeper.
Travis’ experience as an airline pilot inspires some of the utilitarian aspects of the Fortitude but a lifelong passion for horology, shared by co-founder Clarence is seen throughout RZE’s collections. While it is difficult to pinpoint when the founders’ collaboration truly started, each collection since the brand's inception has design cues collected by Travis in his travels to watch boutiques around the world and characteristics that Clarence has admired since childhood.
If you ask Travis about his favorite piece in his personal collection, he might tell you about his Sinn U1 dive watch. A robust, utility driven, chunky toolwatch, featuring clean minimalistic German industrial design cues, and packed with innovations like its fully tegimented steel. In the next breath, he might tell you how he grew tired of wearing “such a big watch” and share a joke from his wife about the size of his bicep on his left arm - but this foreshadows RZE’s brand identity being rooted in mastering titanium watchmaking.
Touted as having the highest strength-to-weight ratio and a dominant material in the aerospace industry, titanium was the metal of choice for RZE. Committed to becoming a watch brand known to deliver tough, reliable daily beaters, aesthetically pleasing enough for casual wear, Travis and Clarence began their adventure with the Resolute. Clarence’s skillset as a technopreneur and having had a solo foray into the watch industry, coupled with Travis’ experience designing and previously managing the production of another watch brand empowered them to grow their relationship from friends to partners.Starting as Reise, the common German word for ‘journey’, Travis and Clarence entered the watch industry as explorers and innovators, aspiring to deliver an ambitious watch concept with little more than a vision. While the brand concept was ‘simple’, the execution was no small feat. Design and build a watch at an accessible price point ready for adventure, but sleek enough for a dinner party. The timing of the brand’s inception is described as ‘impeccable’ by Clarence with both founders finding a serendipitous time to collaborate with nationwide lockdowns and a pandemic unfolding, but they were faced with the traditional challenges of funding and marketing their first watch.
At the start of each adventure, we all begin at the base looking up at the summit, aware yet uncertain of the challenges ahead. Choosing Kickstarter as the launch platform is symbolic of the founders’ problem-solving based philosophy. Despite a lack of seed funding, Travis and Clarence placed emphasis on the product rather than profit and designed a watch for an audience with like minded values. They forged forward, accepting the risks and challenges of crowdfunding and pushing towards the completion of a minimal viable product. After months of hard work and compiling a spec sheet for the Resolute that offered impressive value and a promise of quality and reliability, they were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a like minded community of fans and supporters.
In less than six minutes the Resolute was fully funded and the team was rewarded with a moment of euphoria on video chat, cheering and shouting with excitement, but the founders quickly recognized the beginning of a much larger adventure. Travis and Clarence often reflect on that moment fondly and credit those backers as their inspiration to continue their journey, evolving from Reise to RZE. Among the diehard RZE community members today are many of those original supporters whose feedback and experiences continue to inform and inspire the founders to challenge the constraints of technology, manufacturing and the traditional watch industry.
To mark our second anniversary we debuted the Valour 38 on Kickstarter this week and were pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming show of support that led to us being funded in less than ten minutes! We reflect and are thankful for all our supporters who have been on this journey with us so far. We sincerely appreciate each member of the community and look forward to having new adventurers join us on our adventure. RZE continues to innovate, grow, and respond to our community. Our team continues to challenge ourselves, the limitations of engineering, manufacturing and watchmaking, and will always stay true to our mission to build watches for adventurers.
We are excited for the adventures before us and this summer, we kicked off our ‘Adventure Awaits You’ campaign. We encourage you to go out and seek your adventure in whatever form that may be! Share your ‘EDC’ or ‘everyday carry’ with us by tagging us on Instagram, using our hashtag, or joining our Facebook group. We’re excited to learn more about the adventurers who wear our watches! Whether you’re just discovering us or you’ve been here since day one, make sure you’re subscribed to our mailing list to stay up to date.
Tag us with your pocket dumps and EDCs this summer using #assembledforadventure!
We want to feature our adventurers and send you some gear for your next adventure! Today we’re featuring three EDC’s! Our first two are from Team RZE, featuring founder Clarence and our numerical ninja, Vivian. Check out Clarence carries when he leaves his house and what Vivian carries when she’s not busy with the boring stuff.
The second EDC featured is a member of our Facebook Community. Thanks for sharing and taking part in our ‘Adventure Awaits You’ campaign. Check out John Weber’s carry, and don’t forget to tag us in your #assembledforadventure posts!
Clarence’s Daily EDC
- RZE Valour Chronograph
Vivian’s Daily EDC
- RZE Endeavour
- Hand sanitizer
- Paper tissues
- Biore Kids sunscreen
- Nivea Chapstick
- Cloversoft wipes
- La gourmet water bottle
I wish I had cool EDC things like some of our other team members, but my adventures have more to do with being a mom of two girls who touch absolutely everything and anything. If you live in sunny Singapore, a water bottle and sunscreen are essentials for everyone - the rest of the items in the picture are great if you have kids or believe in personal hygiene. Really though, I think all the things in my EDC are essentials for everyone everyday to ensure we take care of ourselves. I believe if everyone carried a purse they would be cleaner, better hydrated. Of course sometimes to stop a sticky mess from getting stickier, we sometimes compromise the earth for convenience. When it comes to consumables, we should do our best to choose products and brands that do their part for the earth and sustainability.
RZE Adventurer - John Weber
Just a shot of my EDC. I’ve got two separate load-outs. This one is my daily, working, shopping, traveling, out with family and friends rig. I know a lot of purists take exception to a diver on a rally strap, I get it, but I think the Spectre Diver looks so good on it I’m happy to break the rules occasionally! I switch out straps pretty regularly anyway. I like the Original HVD bracelet best but I rotate through that, the black leather HVD strap, this rally strap, and a tan suede rally strap depending on my mood and what I’m doing that day. I really need a couple nato or paratrooper straps next!
- The glasses are Enchroma color correction lenses
- Wallet is from Harper Ryan Co.
- The woven bracelet is an iPhone charger. Just a cheapo (I’m pretty tough on gear!) but running my own business means my phone always needs to be charged!
- The knife is a cheapo as well. It needs to fit in the “5th pocket” of a pair of jeans or chinos. I buy several at a time and always have one on me (meaning I lose them occasionally or forget I’m carrying one and need to surrender it to an event security guard)