The big news with the Independence 20 is the movement, dubbed Caliber NN20/1. This movement in collaboration with Kenissi, the firm founded by Tudor to produce their own in-house movements. The NN20/1 has many of the same attributes as Tudor’s movements, including the free sprung balance, a full balance bridge, a 70 hour power reserve, and COSC certification. (An important difference, and one that might account for the lower cost of the Independence 20 when compared to Kenissi powered Tudors, is the lack of a silicon hairspring in the NN20/1.) It’s no secret that at Worn & Wound we’re big fans of Tudor’s in-house movements (we just discussed this very topic in a recent podcast), so a caliber that is nearly identical, made by the same people, in a package that’s considerably less expensive than an already value oriented product naturally has our interest piqued.
We should perhaps take a moment here to define our terms when it comes to “in-house” movements and so forth, and also lay out exactly what Kenissi is, and is not. Kenissi, based in Geneva, is purely a movement manufacturer (not a watch brand), and shares production space with Tudor. Kenissi has been around since 2016, and is managed by Tudor directly, and has been a semi-exclusive partner of theirs since 2018. Kenissi has also produced movements for Chanel (who, as of 2018, owns a 20% stake in the movement maker), and now Norqain, but otherwise could be thought of as “the industrial arm of Tudor,” as they’ve been referred to in the press. Since they have a controlling interest in Kenissi, it seems fair to label Tudor’s movements “in-house.” This is obviously a nuanced topic, and reasonable people will have differing views on when and how the in-house moniker should be applied, but this kind of tight relationship between a big brand and specialty supplier is not unheard of in the watch world.
Following up its partnership with mechanical movement manufacturer, Kenissi, the independent Swiss watchmaking brand Norqain is presenting its first timepiece fitted with an exclusive manufacture caliber, whose sporty design is enhanced with a forest-inspired green dial.
The launch of the proprietary Norqain Calibers NN20/1 and NN20/2 (the latter including a GMT complication; you can find out more about them here), earlier this year, marked an important accomplishment for the family-owned brand, founded in 2018 in Bienne, Switzerland. Its partner Kenissi, with whom Norqain produced the movement in collaboration, was founded by Rolex-owned watch manufacturer Tudor.
The forest green dial has a scratched decoarative pattern that ensures no two are exactly alike. It features a black inner bezel with a 60-minute indication and hand-applied indexes. The tip of the faceted hour and minute hands are coated in Super-LumiNova, while the seconds hand has a red-colored tip to match the “Chronometer” indication on the dial. The stainless steel case, measuring 42-mm-in-diameter, features stain, polished, and sandblasted finishes. As with all Norqain timepieces, the polished plate on the left side of the case can be personalized with a life motto, a memorable date, or an important location.
The automatic three-hand movement, Caliber NN20/1, is visible through the box-shaped sapphire glass caseback and decorated with familiar touches — such as the “double-N” Norqain logo, which the brand says symbolizes the Swiss Alps, on the oscillating weight, and the words “Adventure – Freedom – Independence” engraved on a bridge, representing the “core values” claimed by the young company.
The movement is chronometer-certified as per COSC standards and boasts an impressive 70-hour power reserve. The movement’s sturdy construction features a bridge with a two-point fixation to ensure accurate timekeeping.
All Norqain timepieces equipped with the new caliber come with a four-year international warranty; when the owner registers to join the “Norqainer Club” within one month after their purchase, he or she will receive an additional year of warranty for a total of five years. The Norqain Independence 20 is limited to just 200 pieces and comes presented on either a high-quality stainless steel bracelet with brushed and polished links (retailing for CHF 2,990) or on an integrated black leather strap (CHF 2,840).
The Independence 20 will be available at authorized Norqain retailers as of today, July 30, 2020.
You begrudgingly place it back in its packaging, note that despite some wear, it’s still in great condition. Cleverly, you kept everything that was on the watch originally, even the little hangtag on the strap. There. It’s like new. The packaging is closed, surrounded in bubble wrap and placed back in a box, ready for transport. You post it to some forums, tell some friends and it takes a little longer than you’d like, but you find a buyer. You lose a little money, but accept that it was worth it for the experience. You place a label on the box, bring it to your local shipping station, and say goodbye.
As you leave you can’t help but feel like you’ll miss that watch, just a little bit. Like a dog you befriended on a beach that eventually ran off to its owner, it left some impression on you. You head home. On your wrist is a watch you’ve had for years. Your go-to when all else fails. Like an old friend, it’s pleased to see you as well. You think, perhaps, you don’t need a new watch after all – not knowing what press releases wait just a sunrise away.
Following up on the relaunch of its historically rooted, motorsport-inspired Carrera models, TAG Heuer has revisits its sporty divers’ watch, the Aquaracer, releasing three new models with avant-garde designs. All are slightly reminiscent of the Heuer 2000 Series, considered by some to be the precursor of the modern Aquaracer line of today, and are powered by either mechanical or quartz movements.
The first timepiece is the quartz-powered, Aquaracer Khaki Animation Special Edition (Ref. WAY101L.FC8222), which was introduced in June, and uses the combination of a sturdy fabric strap and a sleek anthracite-grey-colored dial. The watch’s 43-mm-diameter case features polished and fine-brushed steel and is fitted with an olive-green-colored divers’ bezel. The bezel is produced in aluminum with a khaki-colored matte finish and uses a 60-minute scale to indicate the elapsed minutes.
At the 3 o’clock position is the screw-down crown to ensure the watch’s water-resistance to 300 meters (1,000 feet). The flat sapphire crystal over the dial has an anti-reflective treatment for added daytime legibility. The dial uses rhodium-plated trapezoidal-shaped markers and indexes to indicate the hours, while the sword-shaped hour and minute hands and central seconds hand are all rhodium-plated and coated in white Super-LumiNova for added nighttime legibility. The angled date-display window is at 3 o’clock. The indication “Aquaracer 300 Meters/1,000 Feet” at the 6 o’clock marker and the TAG Heuer logo at noon are both printed in white lettering. Engraved on the watch’s steel screw-down caseback is an image of a vintage divers’ helmet. The watch comes mounted on a khaki textile strap with a steel, logo-engraved pin buckle and retails for $1,600.
Powered by TAG Heuer’s automatic Caliber 5, the Aquaracer Tortoise ShellEffect Special Edition is available in either a brown (Ref. WAY201N.FT6177) or blue bezel (Ref. WAY201P.FT6178) with a tortoiseshell pattern. The brown-colored bezel model features a black sunray-brushed dial with a horizontal stripe pattern, while its blue counterpart uses the same dial pattern, expect the tortoiseshell on its bezel has a blue-colored “resin effect.” Both watches have “CALIBRE 5,” as well as “AQUARACER” and “AUTOMATIC 300 METRES/1,000 FEET,” etched onto their dials.
The model is equipped with the same functions as the watch released in June: it features a rotating divers’ bezel with a 60-minute scale, a steel screw-down crown, and caseback; the caseback is engraved with a vintage divers’ helmet and the dial sports rhodium-plated trapezoidal indexes, and sword-shaped, rhodium-plated, luminous hands.
Inside the 43-mm-in-diameter case, fashioned from polished and fine-brushed stainless steel, is TAG Heuer’s automatic movement, Caliber 5, vibrating at 28,800 vph with a power reserve of 38 hours.
These special-edition models come mounted on an alligator-patterned rubber strap, in the watch’s respective colorway, with a steel folding clasp and double safety push-button. Both models retail for $2,600 and will be available in August.
WAY101L.FC8222, WAY201P.FT6178, WAY201N.FT6177
Hours, minutes, small seconds
Quartz movement (Ref. WAY101L.FC8222) TAG Heuer Caliber 5, (Ref. WAY201P.FT6178) (Ref. WAY201N.FT6177) automatic movement, 38-hour power-reserve, 28,800-vph (4 Hz) frequency
Stainless steel case, screw-down caseback, unidirectional divers’ bezel, water resistant to 300 meters (1,000 feet)
The dials on these watches are familiar terrain for recent Aquaracers, employing the same horizontal striping we saw in the blue Aquaracer GMT right here. These dials have a brushed sunray pattern that seems to fit with the casual, summery, and water influenced vibes they’re going for. The rubber strap with an alligator leather pattern also contributes to the general “I’m on a boat!” feeling, but in a way that protects your investment if you should happen to fall overboard.
The Aquaracer case sits at 43mm in diameter, which is a hefty watch on paper, but should wear pretty light with the rubber strap. The case is also fairly contoured, which makes me think that the watch will remain wearable for most, even if it’s not super discreet. With a tortoiseshell bezel (made from a resin compound, a first for the brand) that doesn’t seem like the point, anyway. TAG Heuer