The Norqain caliber NN20/1 is an automatic movement that was officially announced on February 5, 2020 alongside a similar GMT caliber NN20/2. These calibers are being produced in partnership with movement manufacturer Kenissi.
“We are proud to announce a new partnership with mechanical movement manufacturer, Kenissi. The announcement of the long-term collaboration between NORQAIN and Kenissi, founded by watch brand Tudor, underscores our commitment to offering quality timepieces that feature robust, high-performance movements ready for a lifetime of adventure. ” -Norqain
The rotor on the NN20/1 features the Norqain logo – a double N in gold which is meant to represent the Swiss Alps. “Adventure – Freedom – Independence” are engraved into the bridge.
In Norqain’s Own Words:
“Displaying the hour, minute and seconds with a level of precision that exceeds industry standards, this Manufacture Calibre has been designed to withstand the movements and jolts of an active lifestyle.” -Norqain
The first watch featuring this movement is slated for a June 2020 release with delivery anticipated in September.
Update 7/30/20: Norqain has released their first NN20/1 powered timepiece called the Independence 20 Limited Edition.
Norqain NN20/1 VS Tudor MT5402:
Just as we said about the NN20/2 movement looking a lot like the supposed “in-house” Tudor caliber MT5652, the Norqain NN20/1 looks like a clone of the Tudor MT5402 found in the Black Bay Fifty-Eight (ref: M79030N).
“How are these different to the tudor movements… Look identical”
To which Norqain answered:
“@joshhedge1 hi Josh! Thanks for reaching out. Our partner is Kenissi, founded by Tudor. We are very happy to offer our customers movements that exceed industry standards with 70 hour power reserve, 2 point bridge fixation and a jumping hour setting for the NN20/2 GMT.👍🏻”
It doesn’t answer the question.
The Norqain caliber NN20/1 is being produced by Kenissi, a movement house founded by Tudor. The NN20/1 is a manufacture caliber that will be produced exclusively for Norqain (and possibly other brands in the future).
“…you are correct. It is not an in-house movement. Today Norqain announced a strategic partnership with Kenissi for the production of two manufacture calibers (three-hand and GMT with jumping hour setting). The definition of a manufacture caliber is that it is not accessible for everybody and only limited to few selected brands. The Kenissi manufacture calibers exceed industry standards and we are proud that we can offer our customers a fantastic movement with 70 hour power reserve, two point bridge fixation, our own decorations and oscillating weight. Hope that this explanation helps. Always at disposal for further information.”
Norqain mentions Manufacture Calibres on their site and in their press materials, but we have not found them using the term in-house. That’s because it is not an “in-house” movement as some large watch publications assert:
The title of Watch Time’s article about the new calibers: “Norqain Announces New In-House Calibers in Partnership with Tudor-Founded Kenissi”
This is a point of confusion in the industry. The term “in-house” once implied that the brand had a vertically integrated system to design and produce movements on their own, for their own watches. Now, having an outside movement house produce a caliber for your watch company seems to grant it “in-house” status.
Is Manufacture the new Ébauche?
It’s likely that the movement that Norqain calls caliber NN20/1 was already being developed by Kenissi (or was already developed and used in the Black Bay Fifty-Eight), waiting for the right brand to team up with and make it their own.
The term Manufacture Calibre is starting to feel like a marketing trend used by some watch brands to separate themselves from the standard off-the-shelf ETA, and working with factories like Kenissi also helps to get around having to source movements from SWATCH – convenient, given the constant threat of limiting supply of ETA movements. There’s nothing wrong with that (right?). This is the watch industry, and the watch industry is smoke and mirrors after all.
If Norqain launched their company in less than two years, while also juggling sales and marketing of a new brand in a stagnant market, and fully developed two new movements in-house at the same time, that would be impressive. Was the NN20/1 conceived, developed and tested entirely by Norqain’s own team of watchmakers? Most folks won’t care after being bombarded with press-releases and magazine articles touting how amazing it is. We will have to wait and see what the watch community’s experience will be – manufacture or in-house is cooler than off-the-shelf, but doesn’t always mean better.
Watches with the NN20/1 movement:
At the time of this post, only one Norqain model is powered by the NN20/1 manufacture movement: The Independence 20 Limited Edition (reference: NN3000) with a green dial. The retail price of this watch is $2,990 on a steel bracelet or $2,840 on a leather strap.
In Norqain’s Own Words:
NORQAIN’s Independence line is made up of watches created for trailblazers who dare to be different and go their own way.
“This limited edition Independence 20 timepiece is the first NORQAIN watch to feature the brand’s exclusive Manufacture Calibre NN20/1, produced in collaboration with movement manufacturer, Kenissi. The launch of the Manufacture Calibre in early 2020 marked an important chapter in the brand’s story of independence… The COSC-certified NN20/1 calibre, visible through the sapphire glass caseback, at its heart boasts a 70-hour “weekend-proof” power reserve and exceeds industry quality standards…” –Norqain
Editor’s Thoughts: Norqain mentions in their marketing that the use of this particular movement in their Independence marks an important chapter in the brand’s independence. It’s easy to interpret this is independence from ETA and Sellita (the movements found in their other timepieces), but this raises the question: If the caliber NN20/1 is merely a partnership with a movement maker, and is essentially just a rebranded Tudor movement, then how independent is Norqain, really? It would seem that they just switched from one supplier to another and were able to make a big deal out of it because no one else (aside from Tudor and Chanel?) is being supplied by the same movement vendor (yet).
Update 7/30/20: Early images of the NN20/1 indicated that the movement would have 27 jewels, but on release day, their site lists it as 26. We reached out to Norqain and they confirmed that the NN20/1 in the new green dial Independence 20 limited edition does in fact have 27 jewels, and it has since been corrected on their website.