Back in June, it was announced that Jean-Claude Biver, the legendary watch industry executive formerly at the helm of TAG Heuer and Hublot, among other brands, had taken on an advisory role to the board at Norqain. Given Biver’s professional history, particularly his interest in materials science and tech forward watch making solutions, there was naturally quite a bit of speculation among those of us who follow this kind of thing about what sort of watch might be produced as a result of this new partnership. This week, the watch world has the answer, as Norqain has unveiled four references in the all new Wild ONE line, a new sports watch concept that, perhaps unsurprisingly, uses a new proprietary material and would appear to have a commanding presence. Should we have expected anything different from the likes of JCB?
The key distinguishing feature of the Wild ONE is the new NORTEQ material used in the case construction. NORTEQ is a carbon fiber composite that Norqain says has been specially tuned to offer the right mix of density, elasticity, and shock resistance, which makes it ideal for serious sports watch use. According to the brand, NORTEQ is six times lighter than steel and three and a half times lighter than titanium. It also has properties that allow it to be dyed in a variety of colors, which is highly unusual for a carbon fiber material, which is almost always tinted black.
The case construction of the Wild ONE is quite complex, and serves to bolster the watch’s shock resistant qualities. The NORTEQ components on the top and bottom of the case effectively serve as a shield and cage to everything inside. A rubber shock absorber sits between the NORTEQ pieces, and is effectively a “bumper” on the case flank. Everything is held together with custom made screws, and the case is made up of 25 separate parts in total. It’s water resistant to 200 meters and weighs just 84 grams.
The dial is laser cut on three levels and features a repeating implementation of Norqain’s double-N logo. The goal was to create a three dimensional impact when looking at the dial, with each level separated by 0.05mm, so we’re dealing with some extremely tight tolerances here. The applied hour markers are skeletonized and each has a small amount of luminescent material at the tip. Ditto for the hands, which follow what is now a familiar design from Norqain’s Independence collection.
There are a total of four Wild ONE watches in this initial drop, including two limited editions. For the mainline editions, customers can choose from two NORTEQ cases in black, one with a green khaki rubber bumper and strap and black dial, with the other with blue rubber components and a matching dark blue dial. Norqain is also producing a 200 piece limited edition in a burgundy NORTEQ case with gray rubber components and a matching dial. This model is particularly striking as it highlights NORTEQ’s ability to be fashioned in colors that are not typically found in the realm of carbon fiber. It also has contrasting screws at the lugs, which serve to reinforce the complexity of the case construction. The fourth version of the Wild ONE available at launch is dubbed the “Hakuna Mipaka” Limited Edition. This one is released in partnership with brand ambassador Dean Schneider, founder of an animal sanctuary and currently based in South Africa. This edition is limited to 500 pieces and features a black NORTEQ case with a sand colored rubber bumper, and bears the logo of Schneider’s Hakuna Mipaka sanctuary on the dial. The movement used in all four references is the Kenissi built NN20/1 caliber found across several Norqain models. It has a power reserve of 70 hours, and is COSC certified.
Pricing for the two non limited edition watches is set at $5,290, while the burgundy variant is priced at $5,690 and the Hakuna Mipaka edition is $5,590. We’ll have much more on these watches from the launch event in Switzerland coming soon, including words from Jean-Claude Biver himself, so stay tuned to these pages and the Worn & Wound Instagram feed for all of the coverage. Norqain