Going Hands On with the New Norqain Independence 20 Limited Edition

Oh, how rare it is these days that a new watch is available in dealer’s showcase the day that it is released, but today…today was a good day. It should come by no surprise at this point that we are incredibly intrigued by what Norqain have been purring out, especially after our hands on experience with both the Norqain Sport Adventure Lady (check out our YouTube review here) and the Freedom 60 Chrono. So when we heard that the brand was partnering with movement manufacturer Kenissi who make movements for both Tudor and Chanel, we had to take a look ourselves and made a trip over to our local AD here in Nashville, King Jewelers. But before we get into what we think, let’s chat about the Independence 20 and why this new partnership matters to the brand.

At only two years old there’s no denying that the family-owned and independent watch brand is making big waves in the industry. Norqain is well ahead of what so many other brands have established in those first two years. But when your family tree includes founder Ben Küffer who used to work for Breitling and who’s father had been active in the Swiss Watch Industry for 45 years, it would seem that the brand was set up for success from the beginning. Norqain has taken its head start in the industry and have pushed themselves forward, climbing those iconic Swiss mountains that the brand takes so much inspiration for and not slowing down. Their newest partnership with Kenissi only proves to solidify their position as a brand to watch out for even more. The exclusive manufacture calibre N20/1 is a traditional three hand display without date (further showing how in-tune the brand is with the enthusiast community). The movement boasts an impressive 70 hour power reserve, while running at 28,800 vph and is decorated with 27 jewels. Now movement decoration is no new concept to the brand who have displayed their beautifully finished ETA and Sellita movements in watches previously. With the new N20/1, Norqain’s partnership movement with Kenissi is on full display through the sapphire crystal caseback, where we can admire the attention to detail that came with the movement decoration. Norqain’s signature “double-N” logo symbolizing the Swiss mountains as well as the brand’s core values of “Adventure – Freedom – Independence” can be found on various decorated parts of the movement.

It’s one thing to type up a press release, spitting out the same facts that you see on every other website, but today we get to do something a little different. As we said before, we were able to have some hands on experience with the new Independence 20,  getting an idea for how the watch truly feels. On paper, the Independence 20 measures 42mm with a case thickness of 11.8mm. While the 22mm lug spacing makes the watch feel larger with a bigger bracelet, the impressive 48.75mm lug to lug measurement allows it to fit comfortably on the wrist. Overall the presence of the Independence 20 was quite a surprise. We are no strangers to larger watches, and 42mm is a sweet spot for Katlen (who was wearing a 42mm Planet Ocean when she visited King Jewelers to look at the piece), but the Independence 20 wore a bit larger than expected, and not in a bad way. When you take into consideration both the Norqain plaque on the left side of the case and the crown guards on the right, it wears larger than 42mm. This is where that shorter lug to lug comes in to save the day, helping to make the watch seem both large but easily wearable and practical for an everyday styled piece.

We would be wrong not to mention the little details that the brand has put into this piece to make it exceptional, and that starts with the dial. In their press information, Norqain calls the dial “forest green” and each one has a scratched decoration that is unique to every timepiece. The brand further explains that the green color is a representation of hope, which we can all agree is a fitting message for this time in our lives and the challenges faced all over the world. In paying attention to details, the dial has an inner bezel done in contrasting black with a 60 minute indication and hand applied indexes. The hour and minute hands are equally well finished and faceted, with SuperLuminova tips, while the seconds hand highly contrasts from the rest with a red tip that matches the “chronometer” text on the dial. It’s a lot of different colors going on, but somehow they both compete against one another while working together to bring a cohesive look and feel to the dial. Kat has described it as looking a bit like “Christmas”, but maybe that was the intention. After all, regardless of what is going on in the world, that time of year has a special spirit about it, where anything seems possible and there’s so much excitement and positive energy .What better inspiration to use when creating something designed to bring hope?

Possibly the most surprising detail of the dial wasn’t in the colors or the scratched pattern (which was much better in person that I would have thought), but was the depth. For a watch that is less than 12mm thick, it gives the illusion of an expansive abyss. This works incredibly well with so many contrasting features as nothing looks forced or “on top of” something else. The depth allows every subtle feature to shine in its own spotlight and maybe it is the magic behind how Norqain was able to fit so much personality in one small package.

The Independence 20 is a watch clearly designed to be an everyday sports piece. Featuring both brushed and high polished accents, it’s one of those pieces that could easily be worn casually on the weekend or with a suit in the boardroom for a Monday morning meeting. The fact that it boasts 100m of water resistance, a screw down crown, and sapphire crystal only solidify that even more. A four year warranty (plus an added one year warranty) allow owners to enjoy the watch worry free and prove that the confidence that Norqain has in this new movement. Paying attention to little details, Norqain has added subtle finished for us enthusiasts to drool over, including a large, easy to grip crown with smooth winding, milled recesses in the lugs, and well finished polishing in the bracelet. It is worth noting and we have discussed before that the bracelet is fully polished. If you prefer a more subtle appearance, then we would recommend the leather strap option here.

Yea, the dial is pretty green. And if you’ve followed us for some time you will know that one of us (ahem, Katlen) has a passionate dislike for all things green, but Norqain has executed this forest green dial perfectly. Not just in color, but in finishing. By utilizing this unique scratched pattern, it makes the dial much more subtle than you would think. Everything about the Independence 20 seems to be about balance and Norqain has found a way to make contrast and even conflicting ideas in design work perfectly together.

This first piece featuring the brand’s exclusive manufactured calibre is limited to 200 pieces and is now available at authorized retailers (of which there are over 80 worldwide) and is priced at $2,990 on the stainless steel bracelet or $2,840 on black leather strap. If this is the first piece in a new Independence series then we are incredibly excited to see what comes next. Thank you again to King Jewelers for allowing us to spend an afternoon with the Independence 20. For more information about the Independence 20 or any other Norqain timepiece, visit the Norqain website.

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