How can a newcomer break out in the stodgy world of luxury watches? A brand might try bold colors or unconventional materials. Or, it could follow NORQAIN’s path into the high mountains of adventure-minded influencers and related philanthropy.
The Swiss watchmaker NORQAIN edged its way into a competitive world of go-anywhere Swiss watches after its launch by CEO Ben Küffer in 2018.
Beyond big-name talent in both leadership roles and as ambassadors, the brand has made targeted, strategic launches that consistently hit the world of “Independence, Adventure, and Freedom.” These terms also happen to be the brand’s three product lines.
Last week, NORQAIN launched two new watches, basically color variations of its flagship Neverest. The cleverly named watch pays tribute to Mt. Everest in both its design and philanthropic mission to give back to the families of Sherpas killed while working in the mountains.
NORQAIN offered us a loaner for a week to review. These are my impressions of the NORQAIN Neverest Glacier.
In short: The NORQAIN Neverest Glacier is a beautiful yet rugged watch, both chronometer-certified and water-resistant to 200 m. While pretty, it’s certainly a rugged tool watch with subtle, pleasing details that nod toward the brand’s adventurous DNA. But at nearly $5,000, this Swiss timepiece faces stiff competition from iconic brands.
- Movement NORQAIN Manufacture Calibre (NN20/1)
- Chronometer certified (COSC)
- 27 rubies
- 70 hours power reserve
- Water resistant to 200 m
- 70-hour power reserve
- Little-known brand
NORQAIN Neverest Glacier Review
NORQAIN’s latest launch includes two watches, a 40mm Neverest Glacier (Black & Gold) ($3,990-4,390) and a 41mm Neverest GMT Glacier (Moss Grey & Gold) ($4,290-4,690). Both watches have a COSC-certified Kenissi-manufactured NN20/1 movement. An anthracite dial with gold-filled cracks inspired by the crevasses on Mt. Everest’s Khumbu Icefall will catch eyes.
NORQAIN sent over the 40mm Neverest Glacier for me to check out for a few days. I have enjoyed wearing this understated, well-made dive watch. As it seems most appropriate for outdoor use — at least as much as a $3,000+ watch can be — I opted to test it with a rubber band.
I wore it hiking, dog walking, and even practicing archery. And through these gentle yet fun daily adventures, the watch was a solid, reliable sidekick.
It wore comfortably on my 6.5-inch wrist. While I closed it through the fourth hole on the strap, I don’t think it would wear very well on a much smaller wrist. But it would hold up well on significantly larger wrists.
While rather benign in its overall design with a black face emblazoned with gold “crevasses,” the watch has a lot of sparkle. That’s not to say it’s particularly dazzling, just that it does have a lot of reflective surfaces, from the hour markers to hands to the highly polished crown and even the bezel.
In bright light, it’s more blingy than I expected.
Fortunately, that also translates to easy readability in both bright and dim light. Sitting in the shade, I can quickly pick out the hour, minute, and second hands. The red-lined second hand gives a nice sweeping motion running off the 28,800 vph movement.
In the dark, the lume shines nicely on the hour and minute hand, as well as a marker on at the 12 o’clock position of the uni-directional black bezel. The hour markers, in contrast, shine much more dimly.
NORQAIN Neverest Glacier: Chronometer Accuracy
While I have only had this watch for a few days, I can see it is exceptionally accurate. The watch is COSC-certified, meaning it has been rigorously tested to no worse than minus-4 and plus-6 seconds per day. And in use, I have no reason to believe my test subject does not also meet those numbers.
Seven days after setting the time, it is still accurate to the minute.
A very nice aspect of this watch is its 70-hour power reserve. Like the vast majority of high-end Swiss timepieces, the NORQAIN Neverest line uses an automatic movement that stores energy generated by the motion of your arm.
And for anyone who doesn’t own a watch winder, that means if you take it off on Friday, you may come back to a dead watch that needs to be reset on Monday morning.
With the 70-hour power reserve, your watch will still be ticking after a full weekend. I did take it off for two full days during my week and returned to the watch happily ticking away on my nightstand.
So, what else do you get for a pretty impressive pile of money? In short, the watch is very refined and well-made. The textured, unidirectional bezel clicks soundly in turning. It aligns perfectly on each second.
The polished parts — hands, hour markers, and portions of the case — gleam with a clear shine. The brushed metal is flawless. The crown unscrews smoothly and pops out with authority so you can adjust the time with confidence.
It’s a really nice watch, as it should be, and feels nice and comfortable on the wrist if a little heavy. It is a significant watch, though. The 40mm watch is 12.55 mm thick, runs 20 mm between the lugs, and a full 48.3 mm lug to lug.
So no, it’s not huge, but it’s also not subtle.
This dive watch has a 200m water resistance rating. I dropped it into a glass of water for a half hour, a very gentle test that it passed flawlessly.
Philanthropy: The Butterfly Help Project
NORQAIN donates 10% of its Neverest sales to the Butterfly Help Project. Norbu Sherpa and Andrea Sherpa-Zimmermann of Wild Yak Expeditions created the organization to help families of Sherpas who have lost their lives in the Himalayan mountains. The group’s primary goal is to give their children access to education, and 10% of the earnings of Neverest sales will be donated to the foundation.
The brand claims that since the collection launched 2 years ago, Neverest profits alone have built a hostel for 50 kids (17 of them orphans) to stay near their school, rather than walking as many as 4 hours each way.
In addition to building hostels, the Butterfly Help Project builds and staffs schools, empowers women, and supports families financially. Learn more about the Butterfly Help Project here.
NORQAIN Neverest Glacier: Should You Buy One?
So, who should get this watch? First, you will need a pretty good bank account given the $4,000-ish price. But beyond that, this watch is a great choice for enthusiasts who love a dive watch with a solid backstory.
The Neverest Glacier, while built by a newer brand, has a relatively authentic backstory. Its philanthropic efforts in Nepal underscore the brand’s relationship with mountains and adventure, which helps it stand out from a crowded marketplace in the $4,000 luxury watch space.
For those looking for a watch with a solid build, nice appearance, and interesting talking points, the Neverest Glacier is a unique and handsome tool watch ready for real-world use.