Hands-On With The Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph Familiar good looks from a new kid on the block by Jorg Weppelink June 02, 2020 MIN READHands-On With The Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph
Ever since I first laid eyes on the Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph, I struck me as exactly what a retro-inspired chronograph watch should look like. And after wearing it for some time, I must admit it ticks a lot of boxes. But is it also exciting enough to set itself apart from competitors? Or does it feel all too familiar? After a week of wearing the Freedom 60 Chronograph, it’s time to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Let me start by saying that the Norqain name is quickly picking up in recognition. Most watch enthusiasts have heard of the brand by now. But, for some reason, I struggled to commit the name to memory. I read the stories and knew about the brand, but the name just didn’t stick in my brain. Don’t ask me why.
…there are well-known industry names behind the brand.
As Robert-Jan wrote in his article on the Adventure Sport Automatic N1000, it is interesting to discover how good the watches are from a brand that was founded in 2018. This certainly has a lot to do with the fact there are well-known industry names behind the brand. Consequently, expectations are high.
The Freedom collection
If you flip through the Norqain collection, the Freedom 60 Chronograph stands out immediately. The Freedom collection differs from the other two collections. Its vintage-inspired looks set it apart. Where the Adventure and Independence collections consist of more modern (sports) watches, the Freedom collection takes inspiration from the watches of the 1960s. The absolute eye-catcher of the collection is the Freedom 60 Chronograph. It’s the brand’s take on a modern version of a vintage chronograph.
The watch is available in steel with a black dial and white sub-dials, or with a cream-colored dial. The version with the black dial we received for this review is the most striking version of the two if you ask me. The dial colors in combination with the round steel case and retro-styled leather strap give the Freedom 60 Chronograph very good looks. Good looks unanimously recognized by all the Fratello members I spoke to about the watch. So, at first glance, it is a job well done by Norqain.
The Freedom 60 Chronograph specs
The Freedom 60 Chronograph has a round 43mm stainless steel case that is 15mm thick and measures 52mm from lug-to-lug. The case is water-resistant to 100 meters. The steep sloping bezel has a polished finish, which coordinates with the lugs, pushers, and crown. The case sides are vertically brushed. On the crown we can see the Norqain “double N” logo that resembles the mountain tops on the side. The left side of the case has a small applied polished plaque that has the brand name engraved. If you are willing to pay an extra €140 you have the option of getting a personalized engraving. The Freedom 60 Chronograph features a box-style sapphire crystal that resembles the old school acrylic crystals of 1960s chronographs.
That retro style is also continued with the “reverse panda” domed dial. The black dial features three white counters at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, and applied polished hour indexes with luminous Old Radium Super-LumiNova blocks at the end. The syringe-style hands are also filled with Old Radium Super-LumiNova to give the watch that much-loved vintage feel.
…it blends in perfectly with the rest of the dial.
The date aperture is modestly placed between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock and features a white printed date on a black date disc. It’s perfectly legible but it doesn’t stand out. Instead, it blends in perfectly with the rest of the dial. On the outside of the dial a tachymeter scale and a minutes/seconds track complete the dial. Adding up the elements and looking at the watch, Norqain has created a very stylish and good looking watch. There is no doubt about it.
The Norqain calibre NN18
The Freedom 60 Chronograph is powered by the automatic Norqain caliber NN18. It’s essentially an ETA Valjoux 7753 movement that is visible through the sapphire crystal cashback. As most of you will know the Valjoux 7753 is based on the legendary Valjoux 7750 movement. The difference between the two is the position of the counters. Where the Valjoux 7750 has the chronograph minutes counter at 12 o’clock, the Valjoux 7753 sees the counter moved to the 3 o’clock position.
I personally have always favored the layout of the Valjoux 7753, simply for its visual balance. It’s a general preference I have for chronographs. The logo is always placed on top with the three counters neatly placed beneath it.
…something to keep in mind whenever you need to set the correct date.
We all know the Valjoux 7753 as a very reliable and robust movement that ticks at 28,800vph, has 27 jewels, and a power reserve of 48 hours. The only impractical thing about the movement is setting the date. The date is changed by using the small pusher located on the side of the case at 10 o’clock. It’s a bit finicky and something to keep in mind whenever you need to set the correct date.
Wearing the Freedom 60 Chronograph
The first thing you will feel when putting the Freedom 60 Chronograph around your wrist is that it’s a very well built watch. The 43mm case sits very well on your wrist and feels very comfortable. Part of that is also due to the super comfortable “Norlando” leather strap. It’s produced with v-shaped stitches resembling mountain tops that link back to the Norqain logo. You have the option of buying the watch on a steel bracelet as well for an extra €250. My choice would always be the leather strap. Not only because it’s very comfortable but also because it adds a lot of 1960s character to the watch.
After wearing the Freedom 60 Chronograph for a couple of days, the watch really grew on me. What started out as wearing a watch for a review, quickly changed to my having a connection to it. I could easily see myself wearing one in the future.
…a very beautiful well-built vintage-style chronograph.
When it comes to new watches — especially those from newer brands — our brains are annoyingly programmed to compare them to existing watches. Sometimes that can get in the way of an unbiased review. But the more I wore the Freedom 60 Chronograph, the more I let go of that thought and appreciated it for what it is — a very beautiful well-built vintage-style chronograph.
And so after this largely positive wearing experience, what would I change? Personally, I am not a big fan of the branded plate on the side of the case. I get the idea but as an added extra element to the side of the case, it just doesn’t do it for me. But I know many people like the option of personalization, but I can live without it.
…a well-designed, well-made product.
One other thing that stands out negatively is the shiny brand logo on the dial. It’s too shiny, to the point where it becomes the stand out element on the dial. It drags attention away from an otherwise balanced visage. I don’t want the logo to be the first thing I see every time I look at my watch. But it is a small gripe. It did not, in any way, dampen my enthusiasm for the watch as a well-designed, well-made product.
There is no doubt in my mind that Norqain has created a very attractive watch. Both technically and aesthetically it’s a serious watch that can compete with the established big brands in the same price bracket. This should not come as a surprise really, knowing that a string of industry veterans is connected to the brand.
At €3,590 this is one of the most expensive regular models in the Norqain collection. And within that price bracket the brand is competing with watches from a number of established brands like Sinn, Fortis, TAG Heuer, and Tudor. So there is some tough competition to battle.
Whether Norqain will be successful in the crowded world of watches, will be interesting to see. As mentioned, there is some tough competition from other well-known brands. And while consumers are clamoring for new watches, very often sales go the way of the familiar. Sure, Norqain can’t build on decades of history to win people over. And sure, consumer trust is something you build over time. It’s inherent in introducing a new brand. But when it comes to things within Norqain’s control, the brand has done well.
…the future looks bright.
Additionally, the brand recently announced a partnership with Kenissi, a prominent Swiss movement manufacturer that produces movements for Chanel and Tudor. With the intention to produce proprietary, chronometer-certified Norqain calibers, the future looks bright. And after wearing the Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph for a week, I can say I am more than interested to find out what is next for the brand. More information via Norqain online.
Brand Norqain ModelFreedom 60 ChronoReferenceN2200DialBlack dial with white sub-dialsCase MaterialStainless steelCase DimensionsDiameter: 43mm, Thickness: 15 mmCrystalDouble anti-reflective, box-type sapphire crystalCase BackSapphire glass case backMovementNorqain calibre NN18, self-winding, ETA Valjoux 7753 base, 48-hours of power reserve, 28800vph, 27 jewels, Norqain signed rotorWater Resistance100 meters / 10 ATMStrapNorlando Italian leather strap – pin claspFunctionsHours, minutes, small seconds, tri-compax display with 30-minute and 12-hour counters, datePrice€ 3,590WarrantyTwo years of international warranty Watch of the Week
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About the author
Jorg has been working in marketing & communications for 15 years. He is specialised in developing brand strategy, brand portfolio, brand design and brand communications. Besides, he loves watches and the stories that make them worthwhile. He can be spotted… read more
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