The REC Watches story is an interesting one, in that all of their watches thus far stick to the clever philosophy of Recover, Recycle, Reclaim-hence the name REC. From day one, the idea was to track down sheetmetal from historically significant vehicles (mostly classic cars), and create a new watch design that pays tribute to the vehicle in question and in some way incorporates some of said original and untouched sheetmetal into its dial design. Past models have included Mini Coopers, Ford Mustangs, Porsche 911s, and even a bit of aluminum from a Spitfire aircraft. This latest model goes back to the automotive world, specifically to a pair of unique Land Rovers. Its counterpart focuses on a mostly stock Land Rover known as the Beachrunner, but the watch we have in hand today takes its cues from a highly modified 2003 Defender-specifically one that has spent years exploring far reaches of the globe, including Iceland, Sardinia, and Monaco.


Before we get into the entirety of the R.O.C.K.Fighter's design, it's worth a note that the dial metal used for the 463 watches being produced comes from the door of this rock climbing rig that came due for replacement in 2019. This is an equally interesting element of all things REC makes, as production numbers tend to vary based on the choice and availability of the materials selected for each model. For example, the sister watch to this model is available in a series of 552 pieces, as it was a section of roof that was replaced on the other Land Rover that was its design basis.


Back to the design of the watch in hand, there's a lot to talk about here. You're looking at a 40mm x 40mm square case, which extends to 42.25mm when the crown guards are considered. The case is 12.1mm thick, and the watch weighs 106 grams. Given its size I was expecting a touch more heft, but without being a lightweight, the mass is fairly aligned with its case proportions. The case is mostly sandblasted to a fine finish, with vertical brushing and a polished bevel on its caseback. Its bezel and crown are rubberized, reminiscent of several pieces on the market these days (fun fact, this process was originally an Audemars Piguet innovation, first seen in the Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad).


Aesthetically there's the inevitable Bell & Ross comparison when looking at the general case shape alone, but two counterpoints make this easy to see past. First, there are quite a few elements that give it its own character, including its crown guards, its rubberized bezel, and every single element of the watch found beneath its sapphire crystal. Second, I'm not one to call for an indefinite moratorium on case shapes once one shape has been used by brand A, B, or C, and if that's going to be a deterrent for you then there's nothing more this review can say to convince you otherwise.


You'll note in the design references of their website, a lot of thought was put into how to take design elements of a Land Rover and put them into a watch. The crown guards as well as the rubberized bezel come from an aerial view of the hood of the donor Defender, which has a spare tire mounted on its hood. The raised portion of the guards emulates the hood's profile between its wide front fenders. The front fenders of the Defender in question also has black checker plate inserts installed, which we see echoed both on the outer portion of the dial as well as on the stamped caseback.


Flipping the watch over for a moment, a 5-lug 'bolt pattern' appears in the caseback, this time used in place of standard notches for opening up the back of the watch. How this will cooperate with standard caseback tools is yet to be seen, but I can't see this being much of an issue. While its caseback is screwed down, its crown is not, leaving the watch with a water resistance rating of 5ATM / 50m. Last in the game of "spot the references" comes the choice of strap; The R.O.C.K.Fighter is fitted with a nicely made leather-backed canvas strap. A bit stiff when first out of the box, it quickly softened up for comfortable wear. The canvas idea came from the canvas hood straps of the Defender, of course. The 22mm strap is fitted with quick-release bars, and thanks to a neutral color palette, finding additional options won't be an issue at all.


Of all these little details, I'm the first to admit that the choice of handset had me a little stumped at first glance. It's a bold choice to go with a red hour hand on an otherwise monochromatic watch, though one that grew on me pretty quickly. Modeled after the hands of a compass, the connection to travel and adventure plays well with all of the other heavy-handed Land Rover references, all while making the watch very easy to read. Using a flat sapphire crystal with a good amount of AR coating, it's pretty easy to get lost admiring the rough aluminum texture of this dial. A clear lacquer is applied to the aluminum for the sake of stability, but that doesn't take away from the natural reflection of the various scuffs and scratches on its surface.


So, we've spent a lot of time talking design here, but that not the entirety of the equation at hand. The R.O.C.K.Fighter is powered by a standard-issue Sellita SW200-1, with a 38-hour power reserve and standard regulation. (-12/+12 sec./day). Priced at $1,795, those who value accuracy above all else might find this a bit steep, but given the additional costs required to execute all of the little aforementioned design cues properly, you can't always have your cake and eat it too in the sub-$2k price range.


Over the course of a couple of weeks I had ample opportunity to wear and get to know the watch a little better, and I'll be the first to admit that its out-of-the-ordinary style of this watch held my attention better than expected. I'm not a 'Land Rover Guy' so to speak, though I do love the rare opportunity to go off-roading, and more often than not bold and quirky watch design starts to wear thin for me rather quickly. While this watch still firmly lands in the not for everyone category, it would be quite hard to imagine this small production batch all being claimed rather quickly.

Learn More About the RNR Collection Here