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Norqain Being “Hublot-fied?”: The Independence Wild One

Jean-Claude Biver, former head of LVMH Watch and Jewellery Division, was the inspiration behind Norqain's newest release, the Wild One....
Credit: Norqain

“When I began working with Norqain, my first step was to challenge the team to innovate…” – Jean-Claude Biver (JCB). 

Yes, the legendary JCB has been acting as an advisor to the still young-ish Swiss watch brand Norqain (founded in 2018). They have come a long way in a very short period of time, and is one of the first external brands to use the Kenissi movement (Tudor/Chanel owned). 

JCB joined in 2022, because retirement just isn’t for him. After health issues forced him to step down from the head of the LVMH Watch and Jewellery division, he found the lifestyle of a retiree not suited to him. Having had the privilege of once working with him fairly closely (as in, we were both in the same brand. He was the head, I was a lowly pawn), I had the opportunity to hear him speak many times. Once he even said that he has always planned on working till… well… his transition to the next life.

Jean-Claude Biver

Not satisfied with starting his own watch brand with his son, (which I suppose was always going to be a limited production affair) he also worked with Norqain. JCB sees a lot of potential in this young brand, and wanted to offer his decades of expertise to the brand to help them take the next step and take the brand to the next level. Whether or not this was needed at this stage of the brand’s life is altogether another argument, as the 4-year-old brand was going from strength to strength. Of course, when JCB offers, you don’t refuse. 

And so, Norqain innovated, coming up with their own fusion material of NORTEQ, created exclusively for Norqain by Swiss synthetic material masters BIWI SA, with whom they’ve been working with for 2 years. NORTEQ is a proprietary carbon composite that is made from carbon fibres and a high-performance polymer matrix. NORTEQ is more than 6 times lighter than steel, 3.5 times lighter than titanium, and this material is highly shock absorbent. In addition to being anti-magnetic, NORTEQ can also be produced in different colours, offering stylistic palates not limited to black and grey. The Norqain Independence Wild One is the first watch in the range to use the NORTEQ in the case, weighing in at an astonishing 84 grams, a full 50% lighter than the stainless steel equivalent. There are 25 parts in the case, held together by 4 screws, visible on each of the lugs. Rather than on the bezel.

The dial is an intricate lattice-like style. It’s not skeletonised, mind you, but that’s probably coming up on the next model. The dial is laser cut, with a pattern that is made up of the double N logo of Norqain. 

“The trailblazing watch concept was sparked by Jean-Claude Biver…He supported the team in innovating and introducing a revolutionary product for sports-enthusiast NORQAINERS around the world. The result: a family of high-performance watches made with next-gen material and spectacular design.” – Norqain Press Release

I am a big fan of Norqain, because they offer great value for a Swiss watch with classic designs, albeit a little conservative, and this is their first step to, err, step out of the mould and into something a bit more, err… adventurous. If, however, this all sounds a little too familiar to you, then you’re not alone, and you’ve also been into watches for at least a decade, or two (depending on how many times you’ve heard similar stories). Why tinker with the script if it’s worked before? I mean that’s what Disney today is all about. If it ain’t broke, just change it up a little bit and do it again. 

There are 4 versions of the Wild One at launch, two of which are limited editions. Priced for $5290 USD direct from the website, these are all powered by the Kenissi movement (exactly as how you’d find them in Tudor Black Bays etc) with 70 hours power reserve which can be seen through the exhibition case back, and water resistant to 200m. Most of all, the watch can withstand shocks of 5000g.

For more, check out the Rado DiaStar


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