Let me say this right up front: The RocK, by Dutch upstart Stuckx, is an insane watch. Not mildly eccentric, slightly out of step, or a little off-kilter, but straight up, balls out, batshit crazy. I will now spend the rest of the review explaining why that is so damned cool.
The fellows at Stuckx do not believe in playing it safe. Their first two ventures explore daredevil design in two very different ways. The Bull (review coming soon) draws from the wild colors and bold graphics of 1970's car culture. The RocK is all about the fetishisation of diving instruments, taking it beyond all practical limits. To this end, it is big (44.8mm wide at the bezel, 52mm long, and a towering 21mm thick to be precise), and it is tough, boasting a 6mm sapphire crystal with an internal anti-reflective coating, a 4mm screw-in case back, and 1000 meters water resistance.
Stephan of Stuckx sent me The RocK Executor model, distinguished by its black and grey color scheme and presumably its legal authority to administer the financial affairs of your estate after you die. I was prepared to hate it. I could see where they were going, and understood that it was a statement more than a practical diver's watch, but I could not get past its bizarre proportions. Photos of a pre-prototype mock up looking for all the world like a block of soap on a NATO strap did not help. I really wondered what the hell they were thinking. And yet there was nothing garish or amateurish about the design. I was fascinated. Naturally, when they offered me a turn with the prototype, I jumped at the chance, and I'm glad that I did.
The case is constructed of grade 2 titanium, sandblasted, and finished with a sinister black DLC coating. It is wider at the base than at the bezel, creating a slightly conical profile that I find more visually satisfying than a slab-sided cylinder. Deep arches extend across the bottom, allowing it to wrap your wrist. It has no lugs per se, but broad slots in the outer edges to accommodate a 24mm wide, 3mm thick leather Zulu strap. There is no disguising its bulk, but the lightweight metal and sculpted underside make this brute far more wearable. It is not at all uncomfortable, even on my spindly 6.5" wrist.
The RocK's face makes good use of its size. The black dial is positioned low in the case, below a steep chapter ring with chunky polished markers jutting out above it. The dial itself is fairly small when compared to the enormity of everything around it, but it does not look undersized. Rather, it enhances the illusion of depth. The arrow-shaped hands are thick and stout, almost like snowflake hands. They a proper length, the tips of the orange minute and second hands just brushing the trailing edge of the indices. The hands and markers will be treated with C3 SuperLuminova. A tasteful logo at the top and discrete text below complete the dial without cluttering it. I truly appreciate the restraint shown on the dial. It anchors the overall design of the watch, providing sufficient dramatic flair while reining in the excesses of the exterior. Well done, Stuckx. Well done.
The bezel is fully integrated into the case, matching its profile. Its narrow vertical channels provide grip and break up The RocK's otherwise smooth surface. I did not expect this sparse texture to afford much grip, but the bezel is incredibly deep, occupying about a third of the watch's height, so there is plenty to hold. The insert is sapphire with a grey timing quadrant and a glossy surface that contrasts nicely with the matte case finish. Black SuperLuminova markers underneath give it satisfying depth. They tell me this was one of the most difficult parts to make. I'd say it was well worth the effort.
The RocK is also blessed with not one, but two helium release valves (HEVs). This folly is one of the best parts of the watch, because it is utterly absurd and the Stuckx team knows it, likening them to huge spoilers on street cars. Desk divers like me love HEVs for the bragging rights. "Yep, this baby is rated for commercial saturation diving," we quip, "I think it'll handle the Slip-n-Slide." Even the pros will tell you HEVs are nice but non-essential options. In real life, HEV's are like male nipples: useless, but better in pairs.
Of course, all of these visual treats would mean nothing if they housed a pedestrian movement. Here, Stuckx comes through again, providing an ETA 2824 automatic, a high-quality Swiss unit with 25 jewels, a silky 28.8k bph oscillation rate, and a power reserve of over 40 hours. The date wheel (to be black-on-white in production) is visible through a 6 o'clock window.
Because this was a prototype, there were some things I could not test. The bezel has been disassembled and reassembled so many times; it is impossible to gauge its action. The dial is a hand made one-off so it is likely a bit rougher than it will be in production (although it looked pretty darn good to me). The date wheel was a dummy. Finally, the lume was just a cheap placeholder so I could not get a shot of the SuperLuminova in all its glory, although if history is any guide, it should look awesome.
I appreciate the audacity of The RocK, and more importantly, I admire its execution. Making an outrageous looking watch is easy. The challenge is to make one that people might want. That takes technical skill, design talent, and perhaps a bit the intangible "it factor." Whatever it is, the Stuckx team has it, because The RocK is equally absurd and amazing. I doubt I could wear it myself, but I love the fact that they made it. If you would like a RocK on your wrist, head over to Stuckx.com and place your order. The RocK sells for €660 ($700 USD).