Ardor and Forge Rothrock

Microbrands tend to take one of two approaches to develop their products. The most common route is to produce a new twist on a traditional design like the legions of Submariner-inspired diving watches. The other, riskier approach is to say, “what if...” and try something unexpected. Zack Rackovan of Ardor & Forge has opted for that second path. With his debut release, the Rothrock, he created a watch that fuses his industrial design experience with a passion for conservation. After wearing the blue and gray Rothrock Seeger prototype for a few days, I’d say he made the right call. 

Ardor and Forge Rothrock Seeger blue

As evidenced by the watches’ names, Zack found his muse in the wilderness around his Tyrone, Pennsylvania home. Rothrock is a State Forest in central Pennsylvania, and the variants’ names come from designated areas within it. There is really no doubting the Rothrock’s Arcadian overtones. Chiseled angles and a scalloped bezel create a chunky, purposeful shape. Its 42mm stainless steel case gets its distinctive rough texture from a proprietary method of blasting and tumbling. Gray cases like this one are left raw while the black and bronze finishes are PVD coated and weathered. All result in a grizzled appearance that fairly begs for outdoor adventure. 

Ardor and Forge Rothrock Seeger blue

Burly though it may be, I found the Rothrock sat rather comfortably on my 6.75” wrist. The overall length is 50mm, and it is 13mm thick — substantial, but not overwhelming. The offset crown and guards also help keep its footprint under control. It has flat sapphire crystals front and rear, drilled lugs, a screw-down crown, and 100m water resistance, which is precisely what you would expect of a field watch. The Rothrock will easily take on the elements and brush off mud and water, even if it isn’t rated for the cruising depth of blue whale.

Ardor and Forge Rothrock Seeger blue

The dial is a typical field watch set-up with darts and heavy Arabic numbers marking the hours. It does not have a 24-hour index, and I think it is better off without it. As it stands, the Rothrock is clear and bold. There is no need to get fussy with another, smaller index. The dial-colored sword hands have semi-skeletonized bases and a broad area of lume fill. Indeed, Ardor & Forge laid on the SuperLuminova nice and thick, lighting up everything, including the length of the second hand and the logo. 

Ardor and Forge Rothrock Seeger lume

You can get white, black, or olive dials on your Rothrock, but the Seeger’s rich blue might just be my favorite. It complements the orange elements of the brand name, logo, and hands, as well as the wood grain in the rehaut.

Ardor and Forge Rothrock Seeger blue side

Let’s pause on the last bit. I did say wood. I’m talking real oak, from a tree. Adding wood to a watch is an exceedingly risky business. It‘s something that should work fine in theory but often falls flat in practice. All too often, wood on a watch comes off as a dated novelty or just plain campy, much like the wood grain appliqué on the sides of an old Chrysler Town & Country. In this case, it works. Zack resisted the urge to go all Brady Bunch rec room, gave us tasteful accents instead. A sliver around the dial and a touch in the crown is all the sharp-eyed will see when the watch is on your wrist. 

Ardor and Forge Rothrock Seeger blue case back

Flip the watch over, and you will see the Seiko NH35 automatic movement and custom oak rotor plate. As regular readers know, I’d often choose the durable, easily serviceable, 21.6k bph Seiko over its smoother but pricier rivals. 

Ardor and Forge Rothrock Seeger blue strap

The Rothrock arrives on a 22mm canvas strap featuring a signed buckle that matches the rugged case finish, grommets reinforcing adjustment holes, and a floating leather keeper with a crossed-over design. It is an impressive unit, but if you prefer leather, you can option up to Horween Harvest Chromexel or  Essex Black two-piece or pass-through straps. 

Ardor and Forge Rothrock Seeger spring bar seats

Fitting any strap will be a breeze because, in addition to the drilled-through perch, there is also a second stealth set of spring seats, positioned farther from the head to accommodate thicker straps. Strap nerds rejoice! This is the kind of thoughtful extra that helps set Ardor & Forge apart from the pack. 

The Rothrock will be available for preorder on November 19, 2019, and the first on board will get for $350. For a well-equipped and ruggedly handsome piece like this, that’s a steal. As they sell out, prices will creep up to the full $550 final price. If you are looking for a novel field watch with a novel, rustic vibe, heartily recommend the Rothrock. Sign up for alerts at ardorandforge.com. 

Ardor and Forge Rothrock Seeger


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