Monochrome Watches
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REC Watches RNR R.O.C.K.Fighter and BeachRunner

Not only inspired by an iconic off-road vehicle... but built from it!

| By Robin Nooy | 7 min read |

Where we usually only reference the link between the watch industry and the automotive world from time to time, we can always count on REC Watches to integrate the two. REC Watches is known for incorporating bits of some of the most iconic machines like the Ford Mustang, Porsche 911 and Spitfire fighter planes in their collections. Their latest watch is not only inspired by an iconic off-road vehicle but once again uses parts of it.

The Land Rover Series I, II and III (which we now know as the Defender) is a legend amongst four wheel drive vehicles with a strong following and an almost cult-like status. Originally it was built by Rover, and designed to tackle pretty much every conceivable terrain you could throw at it, hence the prefix “Land” in Land Rover. The first models were simply known as the Land Rover Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3. Development began shortly after the Second World War and over the course of almost 67 years more than two million have been produced. It was intended as a light industrial vehicle, perfectly suited for the English country life and farming, for instance. It would soldier on to be much, much more than that though.

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An early version of the Defender – photo by Land Rover

The early “Series” models were very simple and crude machines, but over time the car evolved into a status symbol yet is still capable to go further than most cars can. Countless variations have been built with everything from military vehicles, service vehicles and ultra-luxurious bespoke Defenders. With over two million cars built to date, and a brand new, modern Land Rover Defender launched just last year, Land Rover claims about 70% of them are still on the road. 

As always with icons like this, which are widely available, a huge following has amassed as well as an enormous range of aftermarket options and customisations. In previous episodes of the Petrolhead Corner, we’ve seen far more exclusive cars being restored, modified and converted but if you want you can spend some serious cash on a Defender. There are even fully bespoke built Defenders available, with everything from a 650bhp Chevrolet corvette V8 under the bonnet or a full electric power unit conversion if you want. 

The car that serves as both an inspiration and a donor for the RNR R.O.C.K.Fighter
The car that serves as both an inspiration and a donor for the RNR Beachrunner

The latest collection presented by REC Watches follows the same path as previous collections and as you’ve probably guessed by now, the Land Rover Defender is the focal point. Inspired in terms of design and once again incorporating parts from the actual car in the dial, the RNR was developed over a three-year period and is a completely new design for REC Watches and also the first Swiss Made watch it offers. Previous models were offered with a mechanical movement by Miyota. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but incorporating a Swiss movement is a step up for the brand.

Now, where it is easy to splurge on all sorts of obvious details over a watch and call it a day, REC tries to do it differently. The danger of taking the easy route is that it can become rather tacky quite quickly. So in order to design a watch that can hold its own and yet incorporates the soul of its inspiration is a delicate task. REC Watches has based its design on two iconic Land Rover Defenders, both very different in style but still true to the utilitarian DNA of the original. 

On one hand we have the REC Watches RNR R.O.C.K.Fighter, and on the other the RNR Beach Runner. As the names already hint to what they are intended for, the R.O.C.K.Fighter is the more rugged of the two. The watch is built with parts of a door of the car, a 2003 custom Land Rover Defender 110. The design for the watch is based on a custom Defender owned by a German gentleman and entrepreneur. This watch will be limited to 463 pieces.

The RNR R.O.C.K.Fighter

The Beach Runner is a whole different style, more relaxed and laidback perhaps. The car in question is a 1981 Land Rover Defender 110 and is owned by a Portuguese photographer and avid surfer. This watch uses parts of the roof of the car and will be limited to 552 pieces and the green and beige tones of the custom Defender as an inspiration. 

The RNR Beachrunner

The final design of the timepieces is a 40mm wide three-piece stainless steel square case with a 32mm wide round opening for the dial. According to REC, the RNR collection is about strong, square lines paired with soft, round elements. The final result is a rugged, bold looking pair of watches with a few interesting details. The square case with rounded corners, for instance, is styled like the Land Rover Defender’s headlights. The rubber bezel is styled to mimic the spare tyre on the back of the car and the crown guards resemble the iconic grill embracing the rubber-clad crown. On both watches, despite some small differences, the caseback features a design that matches the bolt pattern of the Land Rover Defender’s wheels. The case is fitted with a sapphire crystal.

The RNR R.O.C.K.Fighter has a dial made from the door of the car. Hands and colours are taken from a compass, fitting in with the explorer-like style of the car it is based on. The hands are big and bold, done in red and white and are incredibly legible. On the outer edge of the dial, there is a minute ring in white with black markers. One step inward is a black lacquered ring with a diamond-plate design. The ridged design is normally used to provide extra grip on stepping plates, bed-liners, fenders and more. Finally, the main dial, which is donated by the car, is a steel-like colour with an untouched, scratched surface. A date window at three o’clock completes the indications and hours are marked with luminous material at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. The watch comes fitted with a 22mm wide black leather strap with canvas padding in beige.

The REC Watches RNR Beach Runner has a similarly finished dial, albeit from a different car. This version has a square small seconds indicator at 9, styled to match the speedometer of the car. The indicator is recessed and done in fresh green with white markings and a black hand. On the outer perimeter of the dial there’s a green and white minute track and again a date window at three. Other than that, the dial is detailed with the same luminous markings as the other one and the brand and model name. This version is fitted with a black rubber strap.

The REC Watches RNR Collection is fitted with the Swiss Sellita SW200 automatic movement. This is a reliable alternative and clone of the ETA 2824 and is used by a wide range of watch manufacturers in all sorts of models. It offers 38 hours of power reserve and beats at 28,800vph (4Hz frequency). It is hidden from view by the enclosed and decorated caseback. Both versions have that 5-point bolt pattern from the Defender wheel and the REC Watches crest in the middle. As an extra little touch, the caseback for the R.O.C.K.Fighter is decorated with a diamond-plate pattern tying it in with the dial. Regardless of whichever version suits your personal style and preferences, either one is priced at USD 1,795 and come with a 2-year warranty.

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