Review: Ardor & Forge’s Rothrock has roots in outdoor adventure

With most companies, it’s enough to make a watch tough enough to withstand the elements outdoors. Ardor & Forge has taken things a step further with its inaugural Rothrock series, creating a a timepiece hearty enough to brave the elements, while featuring elements of the outdoors within the watch itself.

Creator Zack Rackovan drew inspiration for his first watch release from the 100,000-acre Rothrock State Forest in central Pennsylvania. Rackovan, an avid outdoor enthusiast and graphic designer, wanted to create a watch that reflected the adventurous spirit of the park. And a portion of the proceeds from sales will go to conservation efforts there. After two years of planning, Rackovan is finally armed with prototypes and will launch his vision with a preorder opening Nov. 19.

I met up with Zack at the District Time Watch Show in Washington, D.C. recently. He agreed to let me borrow the Rothrock Detweiler, one of four iterations named after different areas of the expansive park. I’ve driven past Zack’s home base of Tyrone, Pennsylvania many times over the years traveling to my hometown in western New York. It’s a beautiful if hard-luck area with small pockets of civilization amid the vast forests and hills of rural Pennsylvania – much like where I grew up.

The Case

The Detweiler’s crown is filled with an oak wood accent.

The Rothrock Detweiler instantly stands out in appearance with its dark golden PVD-coated stainless steel case – a rough finish achieved by a proprietary method of sandblasting and tumbling in a container filled with rocks. With a hefty crown at the 4 o’clock position, time can be adjusted with ease even with a pair of gloves on. (You’ll need gloves for those Pennsylvania winter treks through the forest).

The case features a couple of very interesting elements: the rehaut, the center of the crown, and the movement’s rotor itself are all adorned with oak. You read that right: this watch features wooden elements. A slice of oak with the etched word “ROTHROCK” has been attached to the standard Seiko Nh35 rotor. It’s a beautiful touch worthy of showcasing with the exhibition caseback.

(One important note on the case: Zack tells me the prototype case for the Detweiler came out a little darker than intended and the production model will likely be lighter with more pronounced golden accents).

The Dial

The Rothrock has four dial color options. The Detweiler features a gorgeous forest green dial with orange accents and a contrasting white numerals. Other dial options include blue, white, and black. I believe this green and the blue dial are very handsome choices indeed. Dial legibility is excellent. The hands are treated with a healthy dose of orange Superluminova and the seconds hand is also orange.

Specs & Features:

• 42mm vintage gold PVD case
• Proprietary sand-cast texture
• Sapphire crystal and display caseback
• 10 ATM water resistance rating
• NH35 Japanese automatic movement
• Screw-down, offset crown
• Super-LumiNova
• Drilled lugs
• Double lug holes for thicker straps
• 22mm leather lined canvas strap
• Oak accents, rehaut, crown and rotor plate

Final thoughts:

Above all else, what I really love about this watch is its honesty and sincerity of design. The wooden elements don’t feel gimmicky and the design elements come together without any air of pretension. It’s a wonderful marriage of nostalgia and substance tied into a outdoorsy theme that just works. That is no simple task and I’ve seen similar attempts miss the mark over the years.

This is an outstanding first effort and should do quite well with a preorder price of $350 (eventual retail will be $550). You can sign up for the newsletter for all release details at the Ardor & Forge website.

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