Although they only began making watches under the Norqain banner in 2018, the watchmaker’s team have quite the industry pedigree. Boasting links to Breitling, Roventa-Henex and the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, they’ve already partnered with le Locle-based movement maker Kenissi – described by Swiss newspaper Le Temps as the “industrial arm of Tudor”. Some start-ups are rather more equal than others.
Norqain’s latest announcement heralds four new watches for the maker’s existing Freedom collection: two GMT models – one of which is limited to just 300 pieces – and two classic three-handers. The new watches are all running automatic movements developed with Kenissi – the two GMTs use the Calibre NN20/2, the three-handers the simpler NN20/1. More of these later…
The Freedom 60 GMT in steel is Norqain’s first GMT. Using a simple, short, red-tipped third GMT hand running on a neat day/night 24 hour track inside the minute track’s circumference, it has a 40mm case that’s 49mm lug-to-lug. The second GMT on offer – there will only be 300 of these – is milled from bronze silicon-aluminium alloy. This is the kind of resilient stuff you’d make landing gear bushings or oil well components from. The dial carries the same design as the steel watch, but in a properly 1960s tobacco brown you’d see on a BIBA suit. Now all you need is the 1967 3500 Rover P6 V8 in the same colour to match.
The new GMT movement lets you click the hour hand through the hours – backwards or forwards – to match your local timezone while leaving the minute hand unchanged. Ideal when you’re reclining in your Stratocruiser seat en route to Paris.
The three-handers also offer you a choice of steel and bronze, but in a 39mm case with a similar dial design.
All the new watches have display backs, domed sapphire crystals and Norlando leather straps (with a steel bracelet option for the steel GMT).
The movements are well-worth a mention. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ETA, Soprod or Sellita, it’s good to see a change and some variety. The Kenissi collaboration cal. NN20/2 and NN20/1 are both COSC certified, automatic movements with 28 jewels and a power reserve of 70 hours. Both beat at 28,800bph (4Hz) and share the same free sprung balance wheel with four adjustable masses as Tudor’s own movements.
Given one can easily pay the same money for an ETA or Sellita-powered watch from other firms (nothing wrong with doing so either), these are smart, well-designed watches that offer interesting, different movements and a distinctly 1960s feeling.
The Norqain Freedom 60 GMT is priced from $3,590 on leather, while the bronze example is priced from $3,890. The Freedom 60 three-hander is priced from $2,720. More from Norqain here.