Watchmakers around the world must be anticipating a lot of travel in 2023, if the sudden proliferation of new and affordable GMTs is any indication. Seiko may well have gotten the ball rolling with their 5 Sports SSK line, but following hard upon we have seen GMTs from YEMA, Formex, Jack Mason, Nodus, Maen, Serica, and Monta. Not to be outdone, RZE is the latest to throw its hat into the ring with the all-new Acsentus GMT, available for preorder today.
Of the abovementioned timepieces, the Ascentus is the only GMT to be fashioned from titanium. Based largely on the brand’s popular Endeavour dive watch, the Ascentus assumes a familiar shape and size, measuring in at a 40.5mm in diameter, and a very tidy 46mm lug to lug. The watch is 12.5mm thick and has a strap-monster lug width of 20mm. Its screw-down crown and caseback ensure 200m of water resistance, and like all timepieces from RZE, the Ascentus comes coated in UltraHex, making it eight times harder than 316L stainless steel and resistant to scratches.
Aside from the obvious addition of a GMT hand, perhaps the largest departure from the Endeavour design is the timepiece’s DLC bezel. The matte-black 24-hour, unidirectional bezel suits the brushed titanium of the watch to a tee. The modern, aggressive design, appears to absorb light, rather than reflect it. And while tempered somewhat by the warmer tones of titanium, and the playful use of dial colour, the Ascentus is every inch a purpose-built instrument.
As with most offerings from RZE, the Ascentus dial is textured. It remains largely faithful to the Endeavour–with the exception of its dial text and the addition of a date window at three. Elsewhere, we see the same baton-style markers and straight-forward pencil handset which are the hallmarks of the Endeavour line and numerous other toolish dive watches. However, this time around RZE has opted for two-tone Swiss Super-LumiNova, in part, to quickly differentiate the arrow-shaped GMT hand. The 24-hour scale on the bezel is also lumed and surprisingly indistinguishable from the dial lume in its brightness.
In a departure from its ubiquitous H-link (or even the oyster-style used in the Fortitude collection) RZE have designed a new 5-link titanium bracelet for the Ascentus (the Hex-link). It is a sharp-looking, fully-articulating band with a milled clasp. Like the watch, itself, the bracelet is treated in the protective UltraHex.
Part of what has begun this GMT revolution is Seiko’s affordable NH34A, and RZE have chosen the same movement to power the Ascentus. The NH34A is a 3Hz calibre with 24 jewels and a 41-hour power reserve. Beyond the addition of the GMT function, the movement has a tastefully colour-matched date wheel. It promises accuracy of -20/+40 seconds a day.
Featured here, we see a prototype of the Medallion Yellow colourway; however, the Ascentus GMT will also be available in Azure Blue, Carbon Black, and Polaris White.
|Case||Titanium /w UltraHex Coating|
46mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
24-Hour Unidirectional Bezel (120 Click)
200m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Flat Sapphire /w AR Undercoating|
/w GMT Hand
41-Hour power Reserve
|Strap||5-Link Titanium Bracelet /w Milled Clasp|
RZE Ascentus GMT
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Off the Cuff: RZE Resolute 2022
RZE has managed to carve out a very successful space for itself in the microbrand sphere. Since the introduction of the Resolute Field Watch, the brand has paraded through each new iteration of tool watch as though they were ticking off boxes–a pilot, a chronograph, and a couple of great divers. The Ascentus is a logical (inevitable?) move. But a lot of brands cover the same bases without as much success. So what’s the secret? RZE have a formula that works. They began with a vision and they haven’t deviated from that since the beginning. Produce no nonsense tool watches. But more than that, they read the market well and they listen to their clientele. The second coming of the Resolute is a perfect example of a brand responding to its enthusiasts. This constant process of renewal and revision demonstrates a commitment buyers can bank on.
It’s strange to me that the NH34A has sparked such an interest–and possibly a revolution–in the watch sphere, while the recently released Miyota 9075 has surfaced much more quietly. The Miyota is a 4Hz movement and, more importantly, a true traveller GMT with a jumping hour hand. One is not necessarily better than the other inherently. Both offer something different. A “caller” GMT, like the NH34A, is perfect for those who wish to track time zones outside their own. A jumping hour is best for those travelling across time zones. So don’t call it a quibble as much as a question…which of these movements will eventually prove more popular, or useful? Only time will tell…
The RZE Ascentus might be my favourite from the brand thus far. Its sizing and raw, utilitarian good looks place it firmly within my wheelhouse. I like a purpose-driven watch that manages, at the same time, to embody the aesthetics of its intention. The Ascentus does just that. You could throw this watch on as you board the plane for your next travel destination and never take it off. Go hiking; go swimming; take it for a dive. Throw on some jeans and a clean T for dinner and drinks. The Ascentus has you covered. And as a bonus, you could track up to three time zones at once while you are at it. An instrument can be a beautiful thing. The Ascentus is proof of that.
The RZE Ascentus is available for preorder today at special early bird price, but will eventually retail for $569USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
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