Ardor & Forge is a new independent watch microbrand based in Tyrone, Pennsylvania founded by Zack Rackovan. Zack is an Industrial and Graphic Designer with a strong commitment to preserving and enjoying the outdoors for now and generations to come. As a result, he is combining his skills and passions into a new watch brand that is not just another homage. The result is a watch with a unique identity that still maintains a rugged, comfortable and highly usable personality for almost all activities. The company was started in 2017 and has put together a capable team to handle all aspects of getting this new brand off to a strong start and future.
The first watch to be released is the Rothrock, named after Rothrock State Forest in Pennsylvania. The lineup will be offered in four different color palettes with different names. All of the watches will include the leather lined, canvas strap as shown on my prototype, color matched to each design. This extremely sturdy strap has military like stitching, grommet like strap holes as well as an interesting leather strap keeper. The logo’d strap buckle is of the same stainless steel as the watch case, which I will get to later. Optional straps include Horween leather and NATO designs. For my review I have a prototype of the Seeger, which has a base blue face. It is named after the Alan Seeger nature area within Rothrock State Forest. The other three models of this watch are named Detweiler, Thickhead and Juniata. The Detweiler has a green face base with a vintage gold pvd case. The Thickhead uses a black DLC case finish and black face base and the Juniata uses a case finish like the Seeger but with a white face base. I describe this watch as a military tool design that can be worn with just about anything.
The first detail I noticed about this watch is it’s completely unique, proprietary, sand cast, three piece stainless steel case. It has a six segment design for the raised bezel. The 3 o’clock and the 9 o’clock sides of the case are vertical with an interesting, chunky mix of angles and curves. This case offers the advantages of having a texture that makes it glare free, easy to grip and impervious to smudges and fingerprints. The lugs slope slightly down and are thick but short. The watch has double lug holes for optimum strap fit and comfort. The 8mm in diameter, 4.5mm thick, 4 o’clock matching crown is very well protected, industrial in design and easy to grip. It is topped off by an oak accent insert on the face of the crown. Additional oak accents are used on the rehaut and the rotor plate. All three pieces of oak used in this watch will be encased in a clear resin so there will be no issues with moisture and splintering over time. In the production pieces the wood veneer used on the rotor plate will be stained to match the rehaut.
The case of this watch measures a friendly 42mm in diameter, 50mm lug to lug and is 12.3mm thick. Lug width is 22mm. I find this watch to be relatively comfortable on my 7 inch wrist without being overtly large or heavy. The matching exhibition screw down case back is fully and tastefully branded and does not protrude excessively, allowing this watch to wear relatively closely on the wrist. It uses a flat, slightly raised, beveled edge sapphire crystal with a more than adequate 10 atm w/r. The twelve numbers and their twelve indices on the face and the sword watch hands are Super-Luminova filled and are very easy to read. I understand the orange color of the hands will be brighter on the production pieces. I haven’t said anything about the movement in this watch because the NH35 movement needs no introduction. It is the industry standard for affordable microbrand automatic movements. Minor changes in production pieces to the oak wood veneer and the watch hands are about the only changes this watch design needs, and will be receiving. Rothrock watches from Ardor and Forge are available for preorder at $350 for the Detweiler. All other models are $375. Deliveries are expected to begin in May/June of 2020. ardorandforge.com
Bert Kanne is a freelance contributor to MBWW with a love for well made dive watches and chronographs. All photos by Bert Kanne unless otherwise noted.