NORQAIN: A Father And Son Team Combining Independence And Craftsmanship
The independent family business is making waves in only its second year, offering value, detail, and opportunities for personalization.
Family-run businesses seem increasingly rare these days. This is true of the disappearing mom-and-pop shops around the country, and it’s true in the watch world. Nowadays, it seems like the vast majority of brands are either one-man-show startups or global conglomerates producing millions of watches per year.
Today we’d like to introduce a brand, a family-run brand, that is doing things their own way and doing it well. NORQAIN has quickly made a name for itself through its rugged good looks, eye for detail, and accessible price points. Barely two years on the scene, and they’re carried in major retailers such as WEMPE, Bucherer, Tourneau, Westime, Ishida, and many more.
Keeping It In The Family
NORQAIN was founded in 2018 by Ben Küffer in Nidau, Switzerland, and his father, Marc Küffer, serves as Chairman of the Board. Between the two of them, Ben and Marc have over 45 years of executive-level experience in the Swiss watch world, and Marc spent 25 of those years on the Board of Directors for the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
This father and son team is joined by Ted Schneider, a member of the family that owned Breitling for nearly 40 years, and Mark Streit, the Swiss ice hockey legend and Stanley Cup winner. Both of these gentlemen are also part of the management and board, offering their expertise to the growing independent brand.
On top of that, NORQAIN announced its long-term partnership with movement manufacturer Kenissi earlier this year (read HERE). This partnership with the Tudor-founded movement manufacturer represents a significant milestone for the young brand.
NORQAIN In The Metal
NORQAIN launched with three collections of timepieces that embody the pillars of the brand: Independence, Freedom, and Adventure. This trio hits sweet spots between dressy and sporty, and each offers an admirable eye for detail for both ladies and gents.
One such detail that caught our attention was the proprietary pattern etched into the dials of the Adventure collection. The crosshatch weave, which is inspired by the Swiss mountains, is reminiscent of herringbone flooring and adds depth to what’s typically the flattest part of a watch. Likewise, on the Independence pieces, the dial’s “old steel finish” and applied indices balance out the more contemporary details of the red second hand, expanded date window, and sharp case lines.
The men’s pieces run in case sizes of 42mm to 44mm, and each is water-resistant to 100m. In terms of movements, the watches currently use a range of modified ETA and Sellita-based calibers. However, these are hand-assembled in NORQAIN’s facilities in Switzerland and offer 38-hour power reserves. Plus, the NN08 movement is chronometer certified. Come July, the brand will officially release the first model with the upgraded Kenissi calibers (read HERE).
Turn the watches over, and you’ll see these beautifully finished movements and custom rotors through the exhibition casebacks. Turn the watches on their sides, and you’ll notice two things. One, the walls of the bezel are finished with a knurling pattern for immediate tactility. Two, near the 9 o’clock position, there’s an extra steel plate attached to the case.
A Personal Touch
Here, the brand is offering custom engraving options to truly make your watch your own. Clients have the opportunity to add a personal touch to their new watch by adding mementos like initials, dates, coordinates, and other dedications. After all, the best watches in our lives are ones that symbolize something greater than the object itself.
As a public service announcement, Father’s Day in the United States is coming, and it’s coming fast. June 21st is right around the corner, and if you’re like me, you need to find something fitting for your old man.
Watches have long been chosen as gifts from fathers to sons, but they’re equally suitable as gifts from sons to fathers. Chances are there’s some special bit of information – a message or an inside joke perhaps – that would turn a watch from a good gift to a priceless gift.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell & Pierre Vogel)