Norqain Gets Adventurous With New Neverest Collection

In an industry that sometimes seems to move at the pace of a WW1 trench battle, Norqain have made a hell of an impact in the three-and-a-bit years since they launched. Clearly, it helps to have some serious Watchworld veterans on your side, but pitching straight into the most fiercely fought sector has been brave indeed. Working with movement specialists Kenissi has added more weight – for rapport qualité prix they take some beating – and now they have three new offerings to strengthen the line in the Neverest range.

Not too sure about the double meaning in the name, but the watches are very much more sure-footed. All three in the line-up are three-handers with 40mm cases, clear dials and are powered by Norqain’s NN20/1 movement developed in collaboration with Kenissi. They’re also seriously over-specified but in a very good way. Starting with the cases…


There are some mechanical watches that always feel like they need a bit of babying. They’re maybe a little too shiny, a tad lightweight. You wonder if a decent knock will break something and a few scratches will spoil the lines. To (badly) paraphrase Obi-Wan, these are not those watches. For starters, all three Neverests (see what I mean about that name?) come in 316L stainless steel – an industry standard for solid, heavyweight cases. And, as you’d expect for watches with a distinct adventure propensity, they’re as water-resistant as you’ll ever need – 200m/660ft – with screw-in backs and screw-down crowns. Some people can get all competitive about water resistance, but bear in mind most SCUBA divers will seldom even descend to 40m/130ft, so your Neverest really isn’t going to be fussed by anything you’ll throw it at (or into, for that matter). The crown protectors should be enough to deflect the usual bashes too. They’ll look as well-loved as a favourite leather briefcase with a bit of wear.

Despite being tough enough to leave on your wrist no matter what you’re doing, that screw-in caseback is, like the crystal, a sapphire glass. Covering the dial, you get a double coated, scratch-proof box-type sapphire, so no worries about reflections.

You’ll spot that each Neverest has a diving bezel. Rather than aluminium or plastic, Norqain has gone for a much tougher ceramic insert with the first 15 minutes marked individually, then numbers for each five minute block. There’s a lumed pip at 12, trad-diver style, and the edges are knurled so it’s easy to use your bezel as a quick and useful basic timer. The dark grey dial Neverest comes with a red gold bezel, the glacier and green watches get, like the case, 316L stainless.

There’s a choice of dial colours and finishes too. The dark grey and green dials have a symmetrical herringbone lined pattern across their surface. The glacier goes for a striking cracked ice finish. All have hand-applied polished indices with X1 Superluminova infills – there’s no date, so the indices run all the way around the dials without a break. The silver hands use the same lume – the sort of stuff that means you won’t need a torch to see at night. It’s around 60% brighter than standard lume. The whole dial gets a lift with the red tip at the end of the second hand that echoes the ‘chronometer’ wording just above six o’clock. These dials really do pull it out of the bag – each of them is clear enough to read at a glance, day or night, but they’re interesting enough to have you coming back just for a look even when you don’t need to know the time.  

Then there’s the movement powering each of the three new watches. This is the Norqain NN20/1 (good to have a simple, short movement designation for once!), developed with Kenissi (who also make for Tudor and Chanel). This might just be the best of both worlds… let’s face it, in-house, one-off movements are gorgeous but servicing and spares can be tricky. Stock movements are reliable, tested, solid and easy to work on but don’t really make anyone’s heart leap. The Norqain/Kenissi collaboration gives you an engine that’s different and interesting but with back-up for service and bits, should you need them. It’s also a bit of a beauty – in the same way that a good V8 is a bit of a beauty.  

It’s a 28 jewel automatic with a centrally-mounted, 360 degree rotor and a decent 70 hours of power reserve. It’s also beating at a healthy 28800bph, helping it to hit chronometer standards. Like the rest of the watch, this doesn’t mean the NN20/1 is any sort of shrinking violet though. The time-tested Incabloc system looks after shock absorption for the balance and spring (the most sensitive parts of the movement)  and the rest of the plot looks as though it’s been milled from billet steel. The balance bridge is – à la Rolex – anchored at both ends, making it more stable as well as helping dissipate shocks.

You get a choice of how to keep your Neverest on your neverwrist too – stainless steel bracelet, rubber strap with a pin clasp or a fabric strap. Pricewise, the green dialed flavour comes in at $3,390 on a bracelet, $3,180 on rubber or fabric. The glacier white dial is $3,450 with a bracelet and $3,240 for rubber or fabric. The grey dial with the gold bezel will set you back $4,890 on the bracelet with the rubber or fabric options at $4,680.

Opting for a Neverest gets you a cracker of a watch on your wrist, but it isn’t a wholly selfish choice. Norqain are donating 10% of the profit from their Neverest sales to the Nepal-based Butterfly Help Project. This charity works with the families of sherpas who have lost their lives in the Himalayas and gives their children access to education. The money they receive from Norqain helps cover the cost of their school fees, books, uniforms and classroom equipment.

This part of Watchworld – as we mentioned – is a tough sector to stake a claim in. There’s plenty of competition at this price. The watches in this Neverest trio have the huge advantage of an interesting, unusual movement that you’d pay a great deal more if it had a different name on the dial. They’re well-designed, well-made and well-specced. These are serious, no messing about tool watches to boot, but they’d not look out of place wherever you choose to wear them. 

One thing’s for sure, there aren’t many people saying ‘Nor-who?’ anymore. Norqain

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Mark developed a passion for watches at a young age. At 9, he was gifted an Omega Time Computer manual from a local watch maker and he finagled Rolex brochures from a local dealer. Today, residing in the Oxfordshire village of Bampton, Mark brings his technical expertise and robust watch knowledge to worn&wound.
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