Creating your start-up watch company off the ground is not an easy task. Still, this is what 32-year old Ben Küffer did with Norqain. Created in 2018 in Nidau, Switzerland, the brand crafts functional and versatile watches offered at an accessible price. Contemporary and with a clear identity, Norqain is already present at some of the world’s leading retailers such as Bucherer, Tourneau, Westime, Govberg or Wempe… The brand is now ready to invest on the movement side and teams up with Kenissi.
Ben Küffer is connected to his roots and in touch with the times. Proud to be part of a family developing and producing watches for over four decades, he left Breitling in 2018 to create his own brand, Norqain. He brought in his father, Marc Küffer, who owned and managed Roventa Henex SA, a prominent Swiss private label manufacturer. Ted Schneider, the son of Teddy Schneider (longtime former CEO and shareholder of Breitling) and Mark Streit, Swiss ice hockey legend, are also part of the management and board.
Norqain is a fully independent, family-owned watch manufacturer offering functional and versatile Swiss-made watches. All powered by mechanical movements, its timepieces are deeply inspired by the watchmaking tradition but feel eminently contemporary at the same time. Altogether, an impressively mature product range despite its young age.
Norqain’s watches made an excellent first impression on us. There’s an undeniable sense of quality and robustness. The attention to detail, whether for the assembly or the design itself, is evident throughout. For instance, the date disc always matches the colour of the dial – a small detail that is still noticeable. The straps are both original and pleasant. Last, the Norqain plate on the side of the case adds a customization opportunity, as each client has the possibility to get it personalized.
The collection comprises three main designs with the “Adventure Sport”, the “Freedom 60” and the “Independence 19”.
The Norqain Collections
The Norqain Adventure Sport watches are designed for active outdoor use. Their dial features a special Norqain herringbone pattern inspired by the brand’s mountain logo. The knurled rotating bezel features a ceramic insert. It clicks precisely and smoothly to measure elapsed times. Like all Norqain watches, the Adventure Sport is water-resistant to 10 ATM or 100m. Turning the watch over, the exhibition caseback reveals automatic movements based on the tried-and-tested ETA 2824 or Valjoux 7753 with a personalized Norqain rotor. Prices start at CHF 1,830.
The Norqain Freedom 60 collection shows no-nonsense classics distinguished by vintage-inspired dials and cases enhanced with contemporary touches. The chronograph version features mushroom-type push pieces and a scratch-resistant glare-proofed box sapphire crystal. Its slightly convex dial features recessed counters and is framed by a tachymeter. The collection’s faceted hour-markers are paired with syringe-type hands. Just like the Adventure Sport collection, the exhibition caseback reveals tried-and-tested ETA workhorses. The cool Norlando Italian leather straps with their original stitching add the finishing touch. Prices start at CHF 1,790.
Kenissi movements soon
On the movement side, Norqain has been relying on reliable workhorses (based in particular on the ETA 2824 and ETA 7750) but will up the game in the near future. Norqain will be part of the restricted club using Kenissi movements. These will be used as an alternative for some of the higher-end watches in the collections. The two first calibres developed with Kenissi, the three-hand calibre NN20/1 and the GMT calibre NN20/2, will be COSC-certified and boast 70 hours of power reserve. Their construction includes a transversal balance bridge. The GMT will feature a jumping hour with the possibility to set the local time by one-hour increments, both forwards and backwards.
A recently created company, Kenissi is often presented as the industrial arm of Tudor. This movement manufacturer offers a range of robust, high-performance calibres. It was created to produce movements for Rolex’s sister company and for Breitling. In 2019, Chanel announced it had taken a 20% stake in the company and the redesigned Chanel J12 is Kenissi-powered. Kenissi is currently based in Geneva but will move to Le Locle in 2021 where a building (currently under construction) will be shared by Tudor and Kenissi.
For more information, please visit www.norqain.com.