NORQAIN joined the HODINKEE Shop in April, and ever since, the independent, family-operated Swiss brand has continued to grow its reputation as a maker of high-quality watches that offer a strong value proposition. The last time we saw NORQAIN in the HODINKEE Shop was the release of the Independence 20 Limited Edition, the first watch from the company to feature a proprietary movement developed in partnership with Kenissi, a Swiss manufacturer with connections to some of the watch industry’s largest players.
That watch was a major step forward for NORQAIN, and today, we’re excited to bring onboard yet another breakthrough for the brand with the introduction of the Freedom 60 GMT collection. This is NORQAIN’s first GMT watch, as well as its first watch cased in bronze, and it features the company’s second movement born from the Kenissi partnership.
For those that have followed NORQAIN’s recent evolution, these two watches stand out as some of the most anticipated releases of 2020. There’s a stainless steel execution with a black dial that’s priced at $ 3,590, and then there’s a limited release of 300 pieces that features a bronze case with a cedar-brown dial, which costs $ 3,890.
The black-and-steel combination gives the watch a conventional sporty look, while the bronze case adds a hint of warmth to capture an old-school, rakish charm. The Freedom 60 GMT is a great-looking watch that’s well proportioned and works nicely in both color and material executions; it just depends on which you prefer. Both examples are available now for pre-order in the HODINKEE Shop, with delivery expected by mid-November 2020.
The two new GMT watches mark the first official expansion of NORQAIN’s flagship Freedom 60 collection, which has previously included three-handers and chronographs, all of which have leaned on design cues found in vintage watches from the 1960s and ’70s. That period of inspiration clearly carries over in this two-time-zone execution, with a compact, rounded case design that measures 40mm in diameter and a clean, simple dial layout that is easily readable.
While the dials and cases are appealing on their own, it’s the new movement that’s the real star of the show here. Visible through a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback, the automatic NORQAIN caliber NN20/2 features a 70-hour power reserve, a traversing balance bridge with two-point fixation, and chronometer certification courtesy of COSC. More importantly, the new NN20/2 offers “true” GMT functionality, with a local hour hand that can be adjusted in one-hour increments.
Some GMT watches can be a pain to operate effectively, but NORQAIN’s take on the complication is simple and straightforward. You have the local hour hand that makes a full rotation of the dial every 12 hours, the red arrow-tipped GMT hour hand that makes a full rotation of the dial every 24 hours (as tracked on the inner bicolor 24-hour ring), and the minutes and seconds hands. In the second crown position, you can adjust both hour hands and the minute hand until the GMT hand reaches your second time-zone of choice. You can then isolate the local hour hand in the crown’s first position, moving it either forward or backward in one-hour jumps to set the time-zone of your current location. This is especially beneficial if you find yourself between time-zones often, as you can update the local time to your new destination with ease once you’ve arrived. (For further clarity on the differences in the execution of various GMT complications, click here.)
In addition to the “true” GMT functionality, the Freedom 60 GMT models boast an impressive level of fit and finish in design and execution. The sloping, faceted hour markers are applied on the dial and fitted with a square of “Old Radium” Super-LumiNova at their inward point. The hands are filled with a matching shade of luminous material, and the hour and minute hands are in a syringe style that recalls mid-century field and military watches. The bronze-case edition utilizes a silicon-aluminum alloy that is common in marine applications for its enhanced resistance to corrosion and wear; the shade of satin yellow it begins with will, however, gradually develop an attractive patina over time.
A simple, refined GMT watch is pure collector catnip these days, especially one that features a local jumping hour. The release of the new Freedom 60 GMT models immediately evokes comparison to a number of other top-of-the-line “true” GMT watches. We think the Freedom 60 GMT stacks up nicely to the competition, thanks to its highly wearable dimensions and sub-$ 4,000 price tag. If you’re looking to add a new GMT watch to your collection, the NORQAIN Freedom 60 GMT is worth a close look.
The NORQAIN Freedom 60 GMT is now available for pre-order in the HODINKEE Shop. The steel version is priced at $ 3,590 and will be produced in series, while the bronze model is limited to 300 total pieces, each available for $ 3,890. You can explore our entire selection of NORQAIN watches right here.