Norqain may sound like Norwegian cocaine, but it’s an acronym: New Open-minded Rebellious Quality Adventure Independent Niche. And a partridge in a pear tree. The Freedom 60 Chronograph may not tick all those boxes, but it it does the retro-chrono thing with aplomb (excuse the pun). Perhaps the most vintage element is . . .
the double anti-reflective, scratch-proof, box type, sapphire glass.
Back in the day, producing curved sapphire was expensive and complex. Now, not so much. So the Freedom 60’s box crystal’s distortional effect on the tachymeter ringing the dial is an intentional feature, not a bug. Although it is that, too.
As a speed freak who’s used a wristwatch tachymeter to time my sports car exactly never, I’m OK with the tradeoff: vintage style for reduced utility. Well, kinda . . .
Truth be told, the Freedom 60’s dial is a bit of a challenge for me.
On the positive side, the 43mm Freedom 60 Chronograph is a big ‘ole boy, providing ample room for large subdials.
Sunken into a black dial, circumnavigated by application-appropriate indices, the white dials pop like Steven Pulvirent’s champagne. Yes but . . .
In bright sun, the high-polished steel hour, minute and stopwatch seconds hands can overlap illegibly. In the shade, the hands disappear, leaving only the luminous segments. Which would be OK if not for the little lume squares perched above the main indices, clamoring for attention.
There are plenty of watch buyers who don’t share my affliction, who don’t mind spending the extra femtosecond to discern the time. If that’s you, you can lower that raised eyebrow now.
One thing’s for sure: in terms of weight (3.9 ounces), thickness (15mm) and wrist presence, the Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph is a significant piece.
The stainless steel case is satin brushed on its sides, high polished everywhere else; including the lugs, whose complex shape is a testimony to the watchmaker’s attention to detail.
This careful consideration extends to the gleaming piston-shaped pushers. They’re perfectly sized to complement the finger-friendly screw-down crown.
The pushers require a good old shove, but the action is solid, as positive as Joel Osteen at a bible salesman’s convention . The pushers are connected to Noqain’s NN18 movement.
Based on the ETA 7753 caliber, beating at 28’800 vibrations per hour (4Hz), the hackable movement sweeps the tiny second hand with imperceptible hesitation. It delivers a 48-hour power reserve.
Strapping the Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph on the Timegrapher yields an astonishing result: less than one second per day deviation. Money well spent, on both sides of the equation.
While I’m more likely to have “Mother” tattooed on my testes, the YOUR NAME HERE plaque on the side of the Freedom 60’s case is a unique selling point.
Just remember to tell Norqain to align the case screws.
I’m more enamored by the Norqain-branded, Geneva striped rotor.
The winder spins more easily than a roulette wheel. It’s heavy enough that you can sometimes feel it rotating. It occasionally tricked me into I thinking was wearing a vibrating Apple Watch (perish their thought).
The oscillating weight ensures a constant full wind, period.
Our Freedom 60 arrived on Norqain’s Norlando (Norwegian Orlando?) leather strap with mountain top-shaped stitches. The gray suede-like material delivers the intended vintage vibe, but it’s no more my style than a cravat.
I managed to scratch off some of the strap’s finish, leaving splotches, triggering my OCD.
If Norqain’s steel bracelet matches the Freedom 60 Chronograph’s overall quality, I’d gladly skip a therapy session to swing the extra $226.
Luminosity wise, the Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph wears [non-toxic] Old Radium Super-LumiNova on its faceted hands and the top of the indices.
The subdials leave lumeless spots at the 6 and 9 positions. It’s a bit weird at first, but no impediment to nighttime time-telling.
The Freedom 60 Chronograph is not a precious vintage piece – it’s a daily wear watch whose style evokes 60’s classic chronos.
To that end, the Freedom 60’s water resistant to 100m and protected from shock by the Incabloc system (saving watches from the odd bump and grind since 1938).
The Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph slots nicely between merely adequate grand-and-a-bit Hamilton and Tissot chronos and more expensive name-brand Swiss entries.
Norqain is looking to level-up, developing in-house movements with the wizards at Kenissi. I have no doubt the freshman watchmaker will build on the craftsmanship demonstrated by the Freedom 60 to carve out a unique niche of their own.
Model: Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph
Case: 43 mm
Material: polished and satin-finished stainless steel, polished stainless steel Norqain plate (for engraving)
Crystal: Double anti-reflective, scratch-proof box type sapphire glass
Case back: Screw down stainless steel, sapphire
Strap: Norlando suede effect
Lug width: 20mm
Movement: Mechanical automatic Norqain calibre NN18 (base ETA 7753)
Functions: Hour and minute main hands, seconds subdial; chronograph minutes and hour subdials, push button date adjustment, non-rotating stainless steel tachymeter bezel
Balance frequency: 28’800 vibrations per hour (4Hz)
Power reserve: 48 hours
Weight: 3.9 ounces
Water resistance: 100m
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * * * *
Handsome vintage vibe without wandering into cliché.
Legibility * * *
Thin hands good, lume plots bad.
Comfort * * * * *
Substantial heft but perfect fit (7″ wrist in pictures, with one obvious exception)
Overall * * * *
Beautifully made, stunningly accurate chronograph from a newcomer with a bright future. Fifth star withheld for odd lume placement and a meh strap.
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Watch provided for review with no quid pro quo