Every brand wants to have a GMT. They are some of the hottest watches on the market right now, slowly catching up to dive watches. I’ve spoken in other GMT reviews about how there is an unexplainable charm to GMTs. Whether it is the 4th hand or the link to other places and people, GMTs are some of my favorite watches even though I don’t own a single one.
Norqain has launched a tempting addition to their lineup with the Norqain Freedom 60 GMT. This marks the first GMT for the brand but also one of the first watches with their new Manufacture Caliber. Norqain partnered with Kenissi, owned by Tudor and Chanel, to drop new movements into their watches. Let’s take a closer look at the Freedom 60 GMT and the movement inside, the NN20/2.
On the Wrist
If you’ve tried on any of Norqain’s watches, there won’t be any surprises in how this watch feels. This is a good thing as it fits perfectly into the brand’s design aesthetic of purpose-built tool watches that still look great with a hint of luxury. The Freedom 60 GMT immediately reminded me of the 41mm Freedom 60 3-hander in how it felt. This speaks more to how great this watch is as a GMT; the added complication doesn’t add much bulk.
In the photo above, you’ll see that while the lug-to-lug is 49.2mm, the watch doesn’t extend to the ends of my 6.75” wrist. The gentle turndown in the lugs help the watch sit comfortably and takes away from some of the lug-to-lug distance. I felt this wore more like a 47mm lug-to-lug.
Norqain chose a lovely shade of brown for the dial color. Brown can be a tricky color to execute well and Norqain nailed it. Paired with the gilt-accented hands and markers, the watch remains readable at all times. The hands and markers stand out prominently against the dial and the GMT hand is instantly recognizable with its red arrow at the tip.
The Freedom 60 GMT is 40mm wide and it wears true to that diameter. Notice how the Norqain nameplate on the left side of the case slightly sticks out when viewing the watch straight on. This is part of the reason it wears true to its 40mm diameter. I’m a bit torn on the nameplate; I like the unique design element offered by it, but I’d also like to see it as an option if the buyer wants a watch without it.
Norqain Freedom 60 GMT Video Review
The Freedom 60 GMT’s dial feels and looks luxurious. It’s hard to place my finger on exactly why this is so, but a big part of it is the gilt accents. In the photo below, you’ll see how the Norqain branding at 12 o’clock shines brightly against the brown dial and really jumps out at you.
I also noticed how the applied markers weren’t just polished gilt. They have a slight shimmer to them because there is a small amount of texture on the markers. I didn’t notice the texture until I put the watch under a macro lens but the shimmer effect is visible with the naked eye. It’s a nice touch. However, a curious choice is how the lume is applied to the dial. I was sure there was going to be lume in the white line on the markers. There isn’t. Instead, it is a small plot flanking the inside of the markers. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but I would have liked to see the inside of the marker lumed if there was room for it. Otherwise, I would have preferred a solid gilt marker.
The GMT complication is perfectly executed for a fixed-bezel watch such as this. The subtle inside 24-hour track doesn’t leap out at you, but is there when you need it. The 24-hour track is split into white and black for a simple AM/PM designation. I’m beginning to have a fondness toward inner GMT tracks. They’re much less obtrusive than a GMT bezel and for watches that have bezels, it allows them to add a dive bezel for added functionality.
Case, Movement and Strap
While I’m stating the obvious if you’ve been looking at the photos, the case of the Freedom 60 GMT is bronze. I’ll let it be known that I am not a fan of bronze-cased watches; they’re just not my thing. However, objectively speaking, everything on the case of this watch is executed perfectly. There are polished chamfers placed throughout the case that added some shine to the subtle sheen of the rest of the case. They also pair perfectly with the gilt accents on the dial.
For those unfamiliar with bronze watches, the way the case patinates is entirely different than your standard stainless steel case. The bronze will oxidize over time and develop patina in its own unique way. In the photo above, you can see this effect taking place after only a week or so of normal wear. The colors that come through are beautiful to look at.
The layer of oxidation that settles on the case of the watch is exactly that, a layer. If wearers decide they want their watch to look new again, it can be removed. Or, if you’re into chemistry experiments, you can even speed up the oxidation process.
As I mentioned in the beginning of the review, the movement inside the Freedom 60 GMT is the Norqain Manufacture Caliber NN20/2. This is slightly different than an in-house movement, which is a movement developed independently by a watch manufacturer under its own roof. This movement was developed hand-in-hand with Kenissi, who specializes in movement manufacturing.
I won’t get too in the weeds with the semantics of an in-house movement versus a movement like this, but those with a keen eye will recognize some similarities to modern Tudor movements. Where this movement differs from your run-of-the-mill GMT movements is the fact that is a true GMT. What is a true GMT, you ask? To put it simply, a true GMT movement features a jumping hour hand and a GMT hand that is operated in the way we think of setting the time on a 3-hand watch.
When the wearer unscrews the crown, the first position will operate the local hour hand. When travelling, this would be the local time. The home time would have been previously set using the GMT hand. This allows the hour hand to jump in one-hour increments without hacking the movement, keeping the seconds and minute hands set to the current time. The only downside to this is that there is no quick-set date; you have to move the hour hand forward or backward to set the desired date. This isn’t an issue if you previously set the date and didn’t let the power reserve wind down.
The leather strap included with the Freedom 60 GMT is supple and features Norqain’s trademark peak stitching. A simple roll of the strap between my fingers allowed it to fit my wrist comfortably out the box. The clasp of the strap matches the watch and is also made of bronze. While the bronze version of the Freedom 60 GMT is a limited edition of 300 pieces and only comes on a leather strap, a stainless steel version (non-limited) is offered on a bracelet.
Each watch I’ve reviewed from Norqain has impressed me in a different way. In all honesty, they need to. Norqain is a young brand with watches pushing $2-4,000. It’s a hard price point to compete in for any brand, let alone one without the heritage many buyers still value. With that said, their build quality and luxury elements justify their price point. I challenge anyone to pick up a Norqain watch and say it isn’t built as well as a Tudor or an Oris.
The Freedom 60 GMT in bronze got me feeling things I didn’t know I had. As I said above, I am not a fan of bronze watches but I loved putting this watch on every day for this review. Frequent readers of my reviews will also know that I am not a gilt fan either. There is no reason I should like this watch, but I do. Perhaps it struck the perfect balance between all of these elements and broke through my barriers of gilt and bronze. I have to give a hand to Norqain for being able to break through them. If you’ve been curious about the brand, get into an AD and get your hands on one. You’ll be impressed.
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Norqain Freedom 60 GMT Specs
Super-LumiNova Old Radium
Norqain Manufacture Caliber NN20/2