While I’m all for a classic design (and recently, my tastes have definitely skewed in that more-conservative direction for watches), there is most definitely a part of me that hungers to see brands unafraid to play with colors – either through treatments or by material usage. Established brands (unless they’re prone to flights of fancy in their design DNA) seem afraid to take that leap. That means that it’s a great niche for smaller brands to shine, and I think the Ardor & Forge Rothrock Detweiler exemplifies this.
What strikes you first about the Ardor & Forge Rothrock Detweiler, when you pull it from the packaging, is the case. The 42mm gold-tone (via PVD) has a very rough and gritty texture, giving the look and feel of sand casting. And if they’re actually doing it that way, that’s one time-intensive process for sure. Aside from the different feel, what you get with this treatment is the look that many try to go for with forced patination. In other words, you’ve got a wide variety in terms of how the case looks depending on lighting, and presumably as it picks up wear over time (getting smoother spots, for example).
That sets the foundation. From under the sapphire crystal, you’ve got some bold color usage. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an “explosion” given the earth tones in use here, but it is much more than we’re used to seeing. You’ve got the golden oak chapter ring with a similar hue (in luminous paint) filling the hands. The dial itself is an olive drab with bright white markers, and then things are topped off by the brand logo in orange (which, in a pleasant surprise, turned out to be luminous). This shows how a brand can use a variety of colors without making it feel like it fell out of the neon 80s.
Between the color and the layout – and paired as it was on a canvas strap – the Ardor & Forge Rothrock Detweiler has – in my book – very much the look of a field watch. In many ways, that case texture helps that assertion, as it makes it feel like a watch that’s up for anything. Presumably, once you have that crown screwed down (which has another bit of oak in it) the 100m WR rating should keep the movement safe. In this case, it’s the Japanese NH35 doing the heavy lifting, with a nice bit of customization – the rotor itself has another oaken insert (engraved), which helps to continue that dichotomy between cold metal and warm organics.
On the wrist, the rougher-hewn case of the Ardor & Forge Rothrock Detweiler visually wears a touch larger than the 42mm spec would suggest, thought it’s a relatively light piece (at 104g) paired as it is on the canvas strap (though you do have the option to upgrade to Horween leather). Frankly, I rather liked the canvas strap, with it’s unique crossed leather keepers holding the loose end of the strap.
Pricing for the Ardor & Forge Rothrock Detweiler starts at an affordable $350, and puts you on the list for the estimated delivery in April 2020. Should you not care for this color scheme, there are three other versions (the Juniata with it’s purple strap is eye-catching as well) to pick from. For me, I thought it was a welcome mix-up to the field watch formula, and I’m glad to see the brand take the colorful risk. ardorandforge.com
- Brand & Model: Ardor & Forge Rothrock Detweiler
- Price: $350 – $550 (it’s tiered based on the number of pre-orders)
- Who’s it for? You want something that is simply more colorful than you’re used to seeing, and you don’t want to go to plastics and resins
- Would I wear it? On occasion, yes. This particular version seems well-suited to the out-of-doors
- What I’d change: That case is a chonky boi. If a future version could work on slimming that down some, that would be my recommendation
- The best thing about it: How varied the muted earth tones can actually be – subtle yet bold.
Tech Specs from Ardor & Forge
- 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
- Drilled lugs
- Double lug holes for thicker straps
- 22mm leather lined canvas strap
- Oak accents, rehaut, crown and rotor plate