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 6 minutes

Is Norqain the watch industry’s most impressive newcomer?

By Barbara Korp

When Ben Küffer founded Norqain in 2018, he knew the world wasn’t exactly waiting with bated breath for yet another watch brand to enter the market. But he didn’t let that stop him, and instead doggedly pursued his goal of manufacturing high-quality and revolutionary watches. Not only did the young brand survive the most difficult period of the pandemic, it even caught the attention of one of the most influential names in the watch industry, Jean-Claude Biver. The former CEO of Hublot is known for his eccentricity, but also for his Midas touch. All of this is reason enough to take a closer look at this brand: where it started, and of course, where the collaboration with Jean-Claude Biver has led.

Norqain Adventure Sport – a new generation of watches for adventurers and explorers

Who’s behind Norqain?

Based in the heart of the Swiss watch industry, NORQAIN is one of the few independent, family-owned watch brands producing affordable watches for enthusiasts. While the brand’s name is often considered a mere invention, there’s actually more to it: it’s an acronym for the company’s values:

  • N = New
  • O = Open-Minded
  • R = Rebelliousness
  • Q = Quality Time
  • A = Adventure
  • I = Independent
  • N = Niche

Sounds too good to be true? Rest assured, it’s not. This brand combines its profound knowledge of the watch industry with a passion for innovation and a commitment to the environment.

At the core of this brand is an experienced team: Board member Ted Schneider, for example, is a member of the family that owned Breitling for many decades, and brings with him both industry knowledge and a powerful network of contacts. CEO Ben Küffer, for his part, was formerly a brand manager at Breitling. His father, Marc Küffer, is part of Norqain’s management team. He was the longtime CEO and co-owner of Roventa-Henex, the best-known private-label manufacturer in the luxury watch sector. The board also includes Mark Streit, a former professional ice hockey player and once one of Switzerland’s biggest star athletes. Thanks to him, Norqain was able to become an official outfitter of the NHL early on, as well as official timekeeper of the Spengler Cup. In 2022, Norqain also became the official timekeeper of the New York City Marathon. The Norqain brand is thus closely tied to outstanding achievements in the world of sports; not only the athletes Norqain partners with, but the people who run the company actively practice the brand’s values.

Norqain Freedom 60 GMT – for keeping track of time back home while attending sporting events worldwide

What sets the brand and its watches apart?

Look no further than the brand’s logo: the Swiss Alps are Norqain’s source of inspiration. A passion for mountaineering and a thirst for new challenges are part of the DNA of this brand. Knowing that watches should be reliable companions, Norqain strives to achieve the highest quality when manufacturing their exclusively mechanical timepieces. In 2020, they even developed two in-house movements together with Kenissi, the movement manufacturer for Tudor. Ever since, an in-house caliber beats at the heart of each Norqain watch and is visible through the open case back.

Remaining true to its Swiss roots, the brand develops, assembles, and carefully tests all its watches on-site in the Swiss Jura. Norqain also turns to local Swiss companies when choosing production partners, which has helped the brand secure the “CO2-NEUTRAL” ertificate. As mountain enthusiasts, the Norqain team knows that nature conservation comes first.

The brand is not only dedicated to the environment, but also to people. Its Neverest collection supports the Butterfly Help Project, which helps the families of sherpas who have suffered accidents in the Himalayas and gives their children access to an education. The brand thus prioritizes responsibility at all levels – towards nature, people, and customers.

Norqain Adventure Neverest – the brand’s love for nature is visible even on the dial

The Norqainer Community

As a young brand, Norqain knows how to get its name out. While the company initially relied on posters to advertise their watches, brand ambassadors – so-called “Norqainers” – have become increasingly important. These include star skiers like Tina Weirather and Felix Neureuther, as well as professional athletes from other fields, but also musicians and writers. All these ambassadors are united by their embodiment of the Norqain motto: “My life, my way.” The most famous Norqainer is Dean Schneider, the lion whisperer and Instagram star. Over the course of its partnership with Schneider, Norqain’s own commitment to animal welfare has become more pronounced. Beyond donating a portion of the proceeds from the watches developed in collaboration with Dean Schneider to the Hakuna Mipaka Oasis, Norqain is going one step further: New watches will only be sold with animal cruelty-free, vegan-certified straps. After all, living “my life, my way” should always respect the planet. This might be one of the best examples of how ambassadors can really have a say in a brand partnership and make a positive impact.

In addition to manifesting the Norqain motto, all Norqainers are encouraged to make the watch their own, for instance choosing a unique strap from the brand’s wide selection. The watch can be even more discreetly personalized with a bespoke Norqain plate, located on the left side of the case on all models. By ordering an engraving to commemorate significant events – whether it’s your wedding anniversary or the date of a special mountain climb – you can put a part of yourself into the watch.

Norqain Adventure Sport Lady – Tina Weirather’s choice of timepiece


Norqain currently offers three collections, each with its own individual style: Adventure, Freedom, and Independence.

The Adventure line is for explorers who love the outdoors. Whether conquering mountain peaks or ocean waves, these watches are the ideal companions. With the Norqain logo on the dial, impressive water resistance, a rotating bezel, and robust construction, these watches – just like their wearers – are ready for any challenge. I particularly like that this line also includes many watches for women. After all, women also need suitable watch companions when pursuing their athletic achievements. My Norqain Adventure Sport 37 mm has already accompanied me on several mountain climbs and has proven to be a reliable partner.

Norqain Adventure Sport Lady – my favorite mountaineering companion

The Freedom line exudes vintage charm and is dedicated to all those who want to experience and preserve nature. From hikers to explorers, nature is the source of sublime beauty for wearers of these watches. For me, the clear highlight of the line is the model featuring the reverse panda dial. On the one hand, I love the retro style; on the other, I appreciate the model’s color scheme, which is named after an endangered species. To be clear, we aren’t directly contributing to the protection of pandas by buying this watch. But the timepiece serves as a constant reminder to make conscious choices for the benefit of our environment. Not a singular act, but rather daily engagement with the issue of environmental protection should be the foundation of “my life, my way.”

Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph – a beautiful reverse panda dial

The Independence line was designed with passion for people who pursue their passions. The collection features a skeletonized watch, but the clear standout is the “Wild ONE,” which we’ll take a closer look at below.

Norqain Independence Wild ONE – the Revolution

With the guidance of Jean-Claude Biver, Norqain ventured into truly innovative and revolutionary territory: the creation of the perfect sports watch, Wild ONE. Not only the watch itself, but also the very material it is made from is new. Crafted from the patented carbon fiber material NORTEQ, the Wild ONE is six times lighter than its steel counterparts. Water-resistant up to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft) and able to withstand extreme shocks, the watch is suited for all types of water and land-based sports. This versatility is made possible by a sophisticated case with impressive shock-absorbing properties. This watch doesn’t disappoint in the aesthetic department, either: the black, three-level laser-cut dial is reminiscent of a mandala. Skeletonized hands round out this visually impressive timepiece.

In the case of Norqain, “Swiss Made” should be understood literally: the brand works exclusively with suppliers based in Switzerland. And for all their innovations, Norqain upholds an age-old principle by offering watch variants for under $5,200. This way, the brand remains accessible to watch lovers with a small budget and ensures that its luxury Swiss watches aren’t unobtainable.

Norqain Independence Wild ONE – the Revolution

Summing Up

NORQAIN is here to stay. Whether you’re an aficionado or a newcomer to the watch world, there are many tempting reasons to become a Norqainer. Take the leap! With Norqain, you’ll acquire a watch today from a brand of the future.

About the Author

Barbara Korp

The moment I learned that watches were a lot more than just simple jewelry, I was hooked; I become enamored with the elegance of timekeeping. But there was one small hitch: most models were just too big for me to wear! That didn't discourage me, however. In fact, I developed quite a niche interest.

Read more

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