Norqain was tipped as “one to watch” when it first emerged. That kind of attention usually attracts both fans and skeptics. This family-owned independent brand has grown by leaps and bounds since its founding in 2018, demonstrating all the promising signs. I know from my own experience that establishing an independent watch company is no mean feat, even in the best of times — no matter how deep a pocket and how many insider connections one has. Any upstarts that could turn fully-fledged in such a short space of time, in the face of the pandemic, deserve respect. Would you have the guts and dexterity to pull it off?

One way to make it happen would be if one has something special to offer. Norqain seems to have convinced the market just that. The brand now boasts an extensive network of retailers across Europe, the US, and Japan, including some of the top-tier names. Not to mention the Norqain flagship store in Zermatt, Switzerland. That is a lot of doors to serve. To that end, the Swiss company has already built up a respectable catalog of about 60 models, including timepiece collections for both men and women.

Norqain Freedom 60 Chrono 40mm Unisex Watch

Two new 40mm chronograph variants

To continue expanding its offerings, Norqain is launching a 40mm case for its Freedom 60 Chronograph. In an interesting move, and the brand bills the new release as a unisex model in the Freedom 60 collection. It is a smaller variation of Norqain’s best-seller that can now suit more wrist sizes. Norqain may be on to something here. The message is on-trend. When it comes to watches, I’m gender non-conforming. Never in my life have I sought out feminine watches. This case size certainly sits well with (and on) me, and likely with those serious about watches but not blessed with chunky wrists.

The Freedom 60 collection is popular for the ’60s-inspired vintage design that gives the line its name. The Freedom 60 Chronograph has an old-school box-type sapphire glass and a classic two-layer dial. The luminous markers and faceted hands feature ever-so-fitting Old Radium Super-LumiNova. Our hands-on review of an earlier model has covered the essentials, the engine, and the wrist experience.

Norqain Freedom 60 Chrono 40mm Unisex Watch

Specifically for the new 40mm chronograph, the dial comes in two color variations — royal blue and anthracite. It has a case thickness of 14.9mm. The distance between the lugs is 20mm and the lug-to-lug length is 49.2mm.

Visible through the sapphire case back is the automatic winding Calibre NN18, based on the ETA 7753, and its Norqain-branded oscillating weight.

Two new vegan strap options

Another interesting move with this release is the pairing with two new 100%-vegan watch straps. Last year, Norqain announced a commitment to phasing out all leather straps in its collection. The brand was to introduce new watches with only vegan-certified straps or metallic bracelets. To put its money where its mouth is, Norqain is presenting the Freedom 60 Chrono 40mm with two additional strap options.

Norqain Freedom 60 Chrono 40mm Unisex Watch

The first one is the Nortide “linen-fabric” strap made from recycled ocean plastic waste. It has been created for Norqain together with Basel-based Tide Ocean SA, aka #tide, hence “Nortide”. The strap uses a second-life raw material derived from ocean plastic, which gives form to its yarn and linen with no added chemicals or virgin plastic.

Norqain Freedom 60 Chrono 40mm Unisex Watch

The other vegan-certified strap is the Alcantara “suede” strap. Alcantara is a high-quality and durable material made of ultra-microfiber. Both strap options have a smooth underside that is an AppleSkin leather alternative. The AppleSkin underside is made from a PETA-approved leather-like material. The material contains a minimum of 50% apple pulp from the peel and core that is recovered from the food industry.

Norqain Freedom 60 Chrono 40mm Unisex Watch

Norqain appeals to conscious consumers

I applaud Norqain for pursuing innovative solutions to creating conscious products. This may mean little to the skeptics. In my mind, any effort contributing toward a circular economy is a step in the right direction for our sustainable future. Like everyone else, I would wear a Norqain because the watches look great on me. But would I also feel great knowing where the products came from and how they were made? Truth be told, that wouldn’t just be a bonus. I would genuinely geek out on that.

The two Freedom 60 Chrono 40mm variants are available in four strap configurations. The prices are €3,690 with a stainless steel bracelet, €3,600 with a Perlon rubber strap, and €3,450 with both the Nortide strap and the Alcantara strap. For more details, visit the Norqain website.

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Watch specifications

Freedom 60 Chrono 40mm
Domed dial on two levels – 60s vintage look; blue with white counters and white outer ring on lower level; applied NORQAIN logo; date window between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock; hand applied, polished indexes; faceted hands with Old Radium Superluminova luminous markers; 16L stainless steel bezel
Case Material
316L polished, satined stainless steel
Case Dimensions
40 mm diameter, 14.9 mm thickness, 20 mm lug width, 49.27 mm lug to lug
Double anti-reflective, scratch-proof box type sapphire glass
Case Back
Scratch-proof sapphire glass
NORQAIN calibre NN18 (ETA 7753), mechanical automatic movement, 120 parts, 27 rubies; personalised NORQAIN oscillating weight; 28’800 vibrations per hour (4Hz); 48-hour power reserve
Water Resistance
10 Bar (100 m / 330 ft)
Two chronograph pushers, separate push button for date adjustment
Warranty can be extended to three (2+1) years by joining the NORQAINER club