Fans of retro styling will like the Freedom 60 Chrono. This chronograph from the young Swiss brand Norqain certainly looks attractive, but what else does it do? We find out in this test feature from our August 2020 issue.
The Freedom 60 Chrono from the newcomer Swiss watch brand Norqain has quality that’s on a par with its successful styling. Its multi-layer domed dial is flawlessly finished, as are the individually shaped hands with their narrowly tapering tips and the stainless-steel case with its highly curved sapphire crystal, mushroom-shaped push-pieces, screw-down crown and sapphire crystal in the caseback. The calfskin strap, which is styled to look older than it really is, has no continuous seams but instead features a quartet of V-shaped stitches that call to mind jagged mountain peaks. The strap ends in an elaborately crafted, partly polished and partly satin-finished pin buckle with a milled, rather than merely bent, pin.
The Freedom 60 Chrono, our test watch, has a number of strengths and few weaknesses. First and foremost, we liked the smooth running of the Valjoux 7753, ETA’s well-known automatic caliber. The watch gained 2.3 seconds per day on the timing machine and on the wrist. The greatest difference among the several positions stayed within a range of 7 seconds. Its rate values were pleasingly similar while the chronograph was switched on, so its wearer can leave the stopwatch function running continuously.
We liked the convenient operation too. The nonslip crown is screwed in, which means you can extract it without having to slip your fingernail between it and the side of the case. The push-pieces offer adequate surface area and good pressure points so the chronograph can be started, stopped and reset without any problems. And the leather strap is supple, which makes this watch convenient to put on and very comfortable to wear.
We found that this Norqain model has many strong points. And further discovery showed attractive details: its black date disk, which blends harmoniously with the dial; beige-brown luminous fields under the hour markers, which enhance the dial’s retro charm; and a peripheral tachymeter scale, which can be used to conveniently calculate average speeds.
An interesting feature is that the left side of the case of every Norqain watch bears a screwed-on plate engraved with the brand’s name. For an additional charge of $140, this metal plate can be replaced with one that has a personal engraving on it, spelled out in either of two available typefaces.
As far as the model’s shortcomings, the dial of the Freedom 60 Chrono is hard to read. The strokes on the scale for the minutes and elapsed seconds are very slim. The petite tachymeter scale on the dial’s downwardly curved edge is difficult to decipher beneath the domed sapphire crystal. And although the central hands are the perfect length, the hands themselves aren’t readily visible above the subdials. At night, the hands and the hour markers glow in the dark, but their luminosity doesn’t last until morning.
However, the dial’s less-than-perfect legibility results directly from the appealing design. Contrastingly colored counters are a basic design feature of our test watch. And the slim shape of its hands provides an additional retro touch. After all, what would a historically inspired chronograph be without a domed crystal and a curved dial?
All in all, the Norqain Freedom 60 Chrono left us with a clearly positive feeling.
Manufacturer: Norqain SA, Hauptstrasse 7, 2560 Nidau, Switzerland
Reference number: N2200
Functions: Hours and minutes from the dial’s center, seconds on a subdial, chronograph with central elapsed-seconds hand and counters for up to 30 elapsed minutes and 12 elapsed hours, date display
Movement: Valjoux 7753 in the “Elaboré” variation, automatic, 28,800 vph, 27 jewels, stop-seconds function, rapid-reset for the date display via recessed corrector button, index for fine adjustment of the rate, Incabloc shock absorption, 48-hour power reserve; diameter = 30 mm; height 7.9 mm
Case: Stainless-steel case, domed sapphire crystal with antireflective coating on both sides, screw-down crown, fully threaded back with window of sapphire, pressure resistant to 100 m
Strap and clasp: Calfskin strap with stainless-steel pin buckle
Rate results (deviation in seconds per 24 hours, with chronograph switched off/on):
Dial up +1 / +2
Dial down +1 / +3
Crown up +3 / +5
Crown down +4 / +5
Crown left -1 / 0
Crown right +6 / +8
Greatest deviation 7 / 8
Average deviation +2.3 / +3.8
Flat positions 301° / 277°
Hanging positions 271° / 248°
Dimensions: Diameter 43 mm; height = 15 mm; weight = 111 g
Strap and clasp (max. 10 points): Very handsome and unconven- tionally styled leather strap with high quality pin buckle 8
Operation (5): The crown and push-pieces can be operated without difficulty, but using the rapid-reset function of the Valjoux 7753’s date via a recessed corrector in the case requires a tool. 4
Case (10): Well-made stainless-steel case with two sapphire crystals and pressure resistance to 10 bar 8
Design (15): A dream for fans of retro styling 14
Legibility (5): The length of the hands is optimal and luminous material is applied to them, but the strokes on the calibrated scales are very slim and there is a lack of contrast. 3
Wearing comfort (10): The comfort is perfect. 10
Movement (20): The tried-and-tested, large-series caliber in the basic “Elaboré” quality shows decorative patterns and an individualized rotor. 12
Rate results (10): The average daily gain is low (2.3 seconds) and the maximum difference among the several posi- tions isn’t too high (7 seconds). 8
Overall value (15): The cost is commensurate with the quality, but the price seems a bit high for a watch from a little-known brand. 11
Total: 78 POINTS