Norqain is back with two new variants in their popular Freedom 60 GMT line. You might recall that we told you about the initial release of Norqain’s jumping hour GMT back in October, and at the time we thought it was an impressive alternative to ETA and Sellita based “caller” style GMTs. Kenissi, Norqain’s movement supplier, also makes Tudor’s GMT movement for their Black Bay, so the Freedom 60 GMT offers not only a caliber that’s made to a proven high standard, but some watch nerd cred as well.
Norqain is still a relatively new brand, having incorporated only about three years ago, but in that time they’ve defined an aesthetic that is very much their own thing. Their watches seem to me to be all about balance. They are built to be robust but have some more subtle and refined features; they’re a new brand that embraces contemporary design, but also feels rooted in classic mid-century sports watch tropes. The Freedom 60 GMT is a highly legible sports watch with modern proportions (the case is 40mm in diameter) and lines that will remind you of classic sports watches, with brushed and polished surfaces to match. These watches are handsome, not overly adventurous, and generally well executed.
The new Freedom 60 GMTs joining the collection today include a sleek white opaline dial on a bracelet (or strap) and a limited edition green dial variant with bronze case that will show patina over time. Both watches utilize a GMT scale on a bi-color center ring with a short, arrow tipped 24 hour hand pointing to the home time. Syringe style hands give you the local time, and each dial features applied baton style hour markers that are lume filled.
As mentioned above, the movement is a draw on these Norqain GMTs in a way that we don’t normally see on watches in this price category. What Norqain calls their Manufacture Calibre NN20/2 is actually built by Kenissi, known as “the industrial arm of Tudor.” Norqain has given it some custom touches (engravings on the bridges and rotor), but its structure and functions are essentially identical to movement used in Tudor’s Black Bay GMT. The ability to jump the local hour hand is a great feature in a travel watch, and something we’re glad to see being implemented in more watches at competitive price points.
While the Tudor and Norqain are roughly comparable in price, there’s a real difference in the overall vibe you wind up with on the Norqain. The Black Bay is the quintessential vintage inspired tool watch. It’s a tough, burly design, that largely trades on Tudor’s well known Rolex heritage. The Norqain, in both steel and bronze, has a far more refined and elegant look to it. You get the sense it can still be viable as a sports watch, but the finishing, particularly the polishing on the steel version, gives you the sense that this is modeled more closely on the “golden age of travel,” jet-set aesthetic that the original Rolex GMT, the source code for all of these watches, was a product of.
You can buy the new Norqain Freedom GMT right now via the brand’s website. Prices start at $3,750 for the opaline white dial, and $3,990 for the bronze (which is limited to 200 pieces). Norqain