When it comes to GMT watches, I have become nothing short of a broken record. I love GMT watches and, when done properly, it’s easily my favorite complication for a watch. But here’s the thing, not all GMTs are created equal, and the options are generally aligned into two camps: those using ETA’s ubiquitous GMT movement (which offers an independent 24-hour layout) and others that offer the generally more expensive but also often more useful and elegant local jumping hours layout (more on all of this in a moment). Thus, whenever any brand is able to create a well-sized and handsome GMT that features local jumping hours, you can consider me officially interested. Today, that interest is aimed squarely at the latest release from Norqain, the Freedom 60 GMT.
Announced alongside a new 39mm three-hander called the Freedom 60, the Freedom 60 GMT looks like a winning formula in terms of size and function. With a 40.5mm case that is offered in steel or a limited edition in bronze, the Freedom 60 GMT is a handsome and somewhat sporty travel watch that measures 14.5mm thick and 49.2mm lug-to-lug. With 100 meters of water resistance, a sapphire crystal, sapphire display caseback, and an optional bracelet for the steel version, the Freedom 60 GMT has a legible dial with an internal AM/PM GMT ring, a date at three, and a stubby red-tipped second-time-zone hand. The styling is clearly inspired by vintage watches, and Norqain has managed to capture the balanced complexity common to similar designs from brands like Vulcain, JLC, and many others.
Apart from the looks, the main story here (especially for my fellow GMT nerds) is the movement. I’ll get to a breakdown of the function in a moment, but as many of you are well aware, Norqain has its movements supplied by an outfit called Kenissi, which is the same company that was founded by Tudor to create its manufacture movements back in 2018 (the company is also partly owned by Chanel and is, obviously, heavily tied to Rolex). The movement in question here is the NN20/2, which is an automatic 4 Hz caliber with 70 hours of power reserve, a date function, 28 jewels, chronometer-certified timekeeping, and local jumping hour GMT functionality. Frequent readers will remember that Norqain launched its first Kenissi caliber watch, the NN20/1-powered Freedom 20, back in July of this year.
On paper, the NN20/2 looks to be exceedingly similar to the MT5652, the GMT movement used by Tudor in the Black Bay GMT and made in the same Kenissi factory. So, while Norqain advertizes the NN20/2 as an exclusive manufacture caliber (i.e, not in-house, but made only for its use), I think it’s fair to say that the NN20/2 shares a lot in common with Tudor’s MT5652 and that it’s exciting to see more GMT options pop up at a price point well below that established by the gold standard, the Rolex GMT-Master II.
Speaking of the GMT-II, aside from the overlapping nature of Kenissi, Tudor, and Norqain, from a product standpoint, the Freedom 60 GMT stands out because it offers local jumping hour GMT adjustment. Given that I have written about this several times (and Jack did a lovely job covering the subject matter here), I will be brief. At the most basic level, GMT complications tend to come in one of two varieties, 24-hour independent (aka. “caller GMTs”) and local jumping hours (aka. “flyer GMTs”).
24-hour independent GMTs are common at lower price points because ETA has long offered what is essentially the only option for third-parties, the ETA 2893-2. I call these “caller GMTs” because their independent 24-hour hand makes it really easy to view the time in a second time-zone, and thus, these are great watches for those who have to mentally travel to another time (like for conference calls, etc). Local jumping hour GMTs offer the ability to quickly adjust the local hour and date display to reflect arrival in a new location and the adjustment function not only preserves the time shown on the GMT hand (home time, typically), but it also doesn’t require stopping the watch when you arrive in a new time-zone, and the date is tied to the hour hand, so accuracy is not affected and the wearer is not forced to find a local time reference nor update for the date line. As this format is most useful when traveling from one time-zone to another, I call it a “flyer GMT.” What matters is that of the two options, the Norqain Freedom 60 GMT is the latter. This is especially noteworthy because there are so few local jumping GMTs available, especially at price points under that of the Tudor Black Bay GMT (which starts at $ 4,270 on a strap).
While the playing field has changed a bit since Tudor brought the Black Bay GMT to market (watches like the 44mm Mido Ocean Star GMT now offer local jumping for well under $ 1,500 via ETA’s C07.661 – a movement I cannot wait to see in more watches), this new Norqain looks to compete in the same range as the Black Bay GMT and carries a price of $ 3,590 in steel with a leather strap, $ 3,860 with a steel bracelet, and $ 3,890 for one of the 300-piece bronze limited edition.
Offering an entirely different look and feel than that of the Tudor, the Norqain Freedom 60 GMT hits a sub-$ 4,000 price point while sporting identical functionality from a directly comparable movement and, in doing so, joins the still limited ranks of entry-level luxury travel watches with local jumping GMT movements. Anyone with a taste for GMT watches should certainly take note as it’s great to see another solid-looking option hit the market, and it’s also encouraging to see a young brand like Norqain operate in a space mostly dominated by larger big-name players.
Model: Freedom 60 GMT
Reference Number: NN2100SG/B211/20EO.18S (steel, black dial), and NNZ2100ZG/N215/20EO.18Z (bronze, limited edition)
Lug to lug: 49.2mm
Lug width: 20mm
Case Material: Steel or bronze
Dial Color: Black or brown
Lume: Super-LumiNova “Old Radium”
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Leather strap or optional steel bracelet for the steel model.
Caliber: Norqain Manufacture Caliber NN20/2 (created and produced in partnership with Kenissi)
Functions: Hours, minutes, second, date, second time-zone with jumping local hours adjustment.
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Frequency: 28,800 vph
Chronometer Certified: Yes.
Pricing & Availability
Price: Steel on leather – $ 3,590, steel on bracelet – $ 3,860, bronze limited edition on leather – $ 3,890.
Availability: September 2020
Limited Edition: The bronze version is limited to 300 pieces.