Relio Watches is another newcomer to the watch world with a familiar story: watch enthusiasts with a knack for design and the motivation to bring their designs to reality.
Their debut model, the Solstice, is right on-trend with two vibrant colorways packed into a sleek sport watch. But, a curveball! The Solstice comes with relief cuts on the sides of the case that grab light and add texture and lend a much more sporty feel.
On The Wrist
At first glance the Solstice is a joy to look at. The mirror-polished bezel and metallic green finish of the dial bounce light and behave almost like a kaleidoscope reflecting light in every direction and changing completely with the slightest movement. I have to say, wearing this in the sun has been my favorite part.
The metallic green (listed as “Teal”) is deep tending toward emerald-colored and is stunning. It also never loses its color. Many dark-dialed watches tend to go black depending on the light but barring true darkness this watch retains its ever-changing color.
The case sizing is right in the sweet spot. A 38mm case with a 46mm lug-to-lug gives the watch adequate wrist presence and allows sufficient size to highlight the unique design components of the watch without being oversized. There’s a slight curve to the lugs that allows the bracelet to hug the watch to your wrist.
The H-link bracelet tapers from 20mm to 16mm (perfecto) and has a simple flip-lock clasp. It was easy to adjust and, as you’d expect, wears comfortably. Holy micro adjustments too, 6 in all that really allow you to get this bracelet dialed in and fitting great.
We’ve already sufficiently covered the color, so we will skip that part here. The markers at all but 12-3-6-9 are cut down to a pointed angle at the end of the marker and are mirror images of each other on the left and right hemispheres of the dial.
The highly polished handset is exactly what you’d expect for a watch of this styling. The dial is finished off with BGW9Super-LumiNova. The markers are all fully lumed and the hands have excellent lume pads. The lume is exactly what you’d expect of a proper BGW9 application process and is bright, legible, and free of clumping.
The AR coating on the underside is a game-changer when it comes to how reflective the dial ought to be in high light situations. The legibility on this is fantastic in every light environment I’ve viewed it in. The ever-so-slightly domed sapphire crystal further adds to the light bounce.
The Relio Phoenix R sits atop the brand name at the 12 o’clock position and Solstice Automatic is at the 6 o’clock position. The font choice is conservative and legible, and white for the lettering was absolutely the right choice.
Case, Bezel, and Bracelet
Here’s where the real excitement begins. This. Case. Relief-cut cases are not one-of-a-kind. Although – none come rapidly to mind when I consider the design. Down both sides of the case, lug to lug, there is a relief cut with a blasted indentation to contrast the brushed edges. What’s more is that the crown guards carry on this contrast to create a great texture play when you view the watch from the side. The crown is stamped with the Relio Phoenix and nicely polished. It sounds like there might be too much going on here. In fairness, there could be. But it has been executed well enough to excuse the extra steps taken to make this watch stand out from the pack.
The mirror-polished bezel is exactly what you’ve come to know and love in a sport watch. It fits flush to the crystal and has only a slight bevel where it meets the case. This long sloping bezel creates a bit of an optical illusion that might cause some surprise at how large your 38mm watch appears. When examining the bezel, I considered many other sport watch bezels. Relio elected to use the entire bezel for a bevel which makes the bezel appear larger than it actually is.
There is an exhibition caseback that shows you the Miyota 9039 beating away inside. I was impressed with the R logo stamped into the rotor that leaves it raised on the visible side. The rest of the movement looks just as you’d expect.
The bracelet is a well-executed standard H-link that fits the feel of the watch wonderfully. The endlinks are unadorned and I think that was the right move. Any more adornments or flourishes to this watch would have been cocky, and maybe overkill.
Of note, I struggled to remove the bracelet without using spring bar tweezers. The precisely fit end links speak to the manufacturing quality of the watch that I think is often missed when considering a watch purchase. Quality-fitting end links are a good sign.
The finishing throughout is completely on par with other watch finishing in this segment. Relio avoided complicated chamfers, beveled edges, or other tricks of the trade to highlight the case cuts and I think that was a wise choice.
The list price for this watch is $395. It uses a Miyota 9039 movement which makes this watch very well-positioned with competitor brands with similar design innovation and movement choice. In my mind, the available colorways create some limitations on it being a true all-day everyday watch given my style choices, but for those of you who want to be a little bold this really is an option worth exploring.
This is a simple (but not so simple) and elegant watch with some unique design ideas that are well-executed. The marketing tagline for this watch is “Redefining the everyday watch.” I think that the team at Relio is making an honest effort toward this goal. This could very well be an everyday watch. It is attractive, affordable, and bold. Why shouldn’t we be a little bold in our watch choices?
As a new brand Relio has chosen a bold design but showed a lot of wisdom and brand maturity in their restraint. We’ve all see new brands or designs that bring the kitchen sink and as a result fall flat. Relio, with the Solstice, has demonstrated their ability to be creative within reason.
All that being said, the available colorways aren’t really my jam. I’d love to see a second iteration of these come with a black, white, and gray dial. Hot take – gray is going to be the new blue (you heard it here first).
Check out more sport watch reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the Relio website
Relio Solstice Specs
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal