Usually the watches that come to me for review are from brands everyone has heard of. With social media and marketing platforms like Instagram and Reddit, watch buyers are ever in-the-know about new releases even from brands in their infancy.
New watch brands spring up almost daily, more commonly from one-man operations who are attempting to break into the microbrand market segment. When the NORQAIN Adventure Sport came across my desk and I started to do some research into them, it was apparent they were trying to break into a completely different market segment.
NORQAIN is a company comprised of Swiss watch enthusiasts, family members who have been in the industry for decades, and even a Stanley Cup-winning champion hockey player. The name NORQAIN is an acronym (New, Open-Minded, Rebellious, Quality Time, Adventure, Independent, Niche) and their logo is designed to resemble a mountain’s peak. The brand brings these various talents and values together to assemble watches with the aim to sit in the display cabinet next to the likes of Tudor and Longines.
Removing the Adventure Sport from its elegant packaging (complete with a plate embossed with the company logo), the watch is meant to convey rugged luxury right off the bat. As its namesake would suggest, the Adventure Sport is designed to be a watch for the outdoors that can shapeshift into fitting in at the boardroom.
Watches designed in this fashion are not terribly uncommon in today’s market, so finding a way to stand out is a challenge. NORQAIN decorated the dial of the Adventure Sport with their own design of bricks in a herringbone pattern. The pattern is one of the defining characteristics of the watch and something that kept me staring at the dial.
Because of the texture of the pattern, it was either undoubtably visible or faded into the shadows. When photographing the Adventure Sport, my lights caught the pattern at various angles which is why it stands out so prominently in my photos of the watch.
The details of the Adventure Sport’s dial like the markers, lume, and hash marks resemble a gilt dial, but instead of gold, the accents are almost yellow to match the Old Radium Super-LumiNova lume. The color coordinates well with the overall black dial and casing of the watch even though I am not the biggest fan of Old Radium-colored lume.
The applied and polished markers, filled with lume, all taper inwards toward the center of the dial. Each marker is identical in shape apart from the double marker at 12 o’clock and the shortened 3 o’clock marker, which makes room for the date window.
The date window, which is outlined in the yellowish color, has a black date wheel with matching colored text. Black date wheels can be hit-or-miss depending on the rest of the dial, but NORQAIN made the right decision here.
NORQAIN’s name and logo are printed on the dial at 12 o’clock and Automatic and the water resistance rating are printed at 6 o’clock, all of which are in complementary colors. Swiss Made also adorns the dial on the Adventure Sport and all other NORQAIN watches.
Continuing to move up from the dial, the faceted hands are simple yet legible. The seconds hand has a large red arrow which harkens back to the tool-watch aesthetics of the Adventure Sport. The hands, as well as the lume pip on the bezel, are not the same lume type as the markers. They normally appear white and glow a slightly more vibrant green in the dark. This may slightly aid nighttime legibility, but a consistent lume color would have been welcome.
Case, Movement, & Strap
Seen here in full DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon Coating), the Adventure Sport is at 42mm wide, 12.8mm thick, and 48mm lug-to-lug. DLC-coated watches are becoming more popular as an alternative to stainless steel. Some will argue DLC coating makes the watch sportier. The Adventure Sport has a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.
While I would not have the opportunity on a review model, it would be interesting to see how the DLC coating makes the watch look as it ages and acquires nicks and scratches.
The left side of the watch has an attached NORQAIN plate, which adds some diameter to the watch where it is attached. However, it does not take away from the overall aesthetic of the Adventure Sport and does provide a small amount of symmetry with the crown on the opposite side of the case.
The screw-down crown has no crown guards and is easy to operate due to the size of the crown and ample knurling.
Also coated in DLC, the 120-click bezel has substantial knurling on the side, making it extremely easy to grip and rotate. The markers are all engraved but contain no paint so reading it in certain light may be difficult.
The 22mm strap included with the Adventure Sport is a khaki Nordura strap. Unfortunately, I found the strap to be extremely stiff, difficult to conform to my wrist, and uncomfortable. While I understand many new straps will have a break-in period, this was unacceptable especially given the price point of the Adventure Sport. If I were buying an Adventure Sport for myself, I would opt for the rubber strap that NORQAIN offers. Thankfully, the design of the watch is versatile enough that a multitude of aftermarket straps would make the wearer happy.
Drilled lugs would also be a welcome addition to the Adventure Sport. They are almost a given in watches in this segment and more buyers are expecting them in their tool watches. With that said, NORQAIN is aiming for you to keep it on their stock strap so the omission is understandable.
A modified ETA 2824 powers the Adventure Sport. As with all base ETA movements, the NORQAIN caliber NN09 should be reliable and easily serviced when the time comes. While not a huge concern, I wish NORQAIN added decoupling when screwing in the crown. Once again, for a watch at this price point there is no reason to not take the extra step to include this.
On the Wrist
Even though the Adventure Sport may be a large watch on paper, it is one of the most comfortable 42mm watches I have ever worn, with another being the Omega Speedmaster. The lugs curl down and hug the wrist and the 22mm lug width pushes them out far enough to maintain the proportions of the watch.
The polished bevel running along the top of the lugs helps give the Adventure Sport a small touch of flair while on the wrist. Combined with the sheen of the DLC coating, it keeps the watch from looking dull on the wrist.
DLC-coated watches tend to appear smaller on-wrist, most likely due to the black coloring of the watch. I found this to be true with the Adventure Sport. Looking at the watch, it never quite looked like a 42mm watch. It is also relatively thin, helping it take up a little less airborne real estate and slide under shirt cuffs easily.
I would like to see NORQAIN offer a DLC bracelet for the Adventure Sport DLC. The stainless steel versions have them as an option and it does look great. Considering how comfortable the watch itself is on the wrist, a bracelet would only add to that comfort.
Overall, the Adventure Sport is balanced across its dimensions and it shows on-wrist. It’s not a small watch, but sporty watches don’t have to be. On my 6.75” wrist it never felt out of place or that the lugs were trying to extend past the edges of my wrist.
At the beginning of this review, I stated NORQAIN was out to find their way into the display cabinets with some of the big boys in the industry. As a whole, the Adventure Sport can stand on its own as an original watch with proper proportions that looks good on your wrist. There is no getting around the fact that this is a watch in the $2,000 price range and there is a lot of competition there. Longines Heritage, NOMOS, Monta, and others are all in this range.
The question to be asked when considering a watch at this price point is: Does it feel like a $2,000 watch? The answer for the Adventure Sport is yes. Building on that, it feels like a watch in that price range that I could take on a hike and not feel like I was going to break. There are certainly watches in this segment that cannot say that.
A few small additions like drilled lugs and a bracelet option (although a bracelet is available on the stainless steel version) would help push the Adventure Sport further into a higher-tier sport watch category. I am nitpicking a little on those points and there is no doubt that if NORQAIN continues to offer watches like the Adventure Sport, they will certainly find their way into those hallowed display boxes.
|Lug-to-lug Height||48mm||Lug Width||22mm|
|Crystal||Flat Sapphire||Strap||Nordura Strap|
|Water Resistance||100 meters||Lume||Super-LumiNova® Old Radium|
|Movement||NORQAIN calibre NN09 (ETA 2824)||Price||$2,170|
More Images of the NORQAIN Adventure Sport DLC
Check out the NORQAIN website