One of the product pillars within the still-fresh Swiss watchmaker Norqain is the Adventure series. Today, I review the Norqain Adventure Sport DLC. To me, the Adventure Sport collection is a bit of a sleeper hit that requires some wrist time before you can fully appreciate it because the luxury watch industry simply has so many options within this watch category. What category is that? Good question.
Norqain actually sums it up pretty well by referring to the watch as “Adventure Sport.” This isn’t just a sport watch that can withstand activities and some abuse, but one that has a high attention to detail and a particular personality that suggests the type of equipment you’d use on an actual adventure. I took the Adventure Sport with me hiking, exercising, and wore it in other situations where one can easily test out the comfort and overall performance of a sports watch.
What makes this particular Adventure Sport model distinct from the rest in the current Norqain collection (and the Adventure collection is by no means small) is that it is coated with DLC (diamond-like carbon). This gunmetal black-toned coating offers impressive scratch resistance on top of the base steel material and also gives the watch a handsome dark look to it.
The Adventure Sport DLC watch itself is 42mm-wide and about 13mm-thick with a roughly 50mm lug-to-lug distance. The strap width is 22mm, meaning that this is probably one of the perfect sizes for my wrist, and overall a very well-proportioned timepiece. The DLC application over the base steel case and bezel is truly excellent — far better than most of what I’ve seen at this price point outside of brands that do truly high-production numbers. The Adventure Sport case has an AR-coated, slightly domed sapphire crystal and is water-resistant to 100 meters. On the rear of the case over the movement is another sapphire crystal for the exhibition window.
Simply because it was impressively good, I want to commend Norqain for the design and construction of the uni-directional timing bezel. The knurled periphery of the bezel is easy to grip even when not looking, and the 60 clicks are solid yet pleasant to move to. While there is a lume pip at the 60-minute marker, the other markers on the bezel are a bit harder to read, but it does help with black-on-black style the Adventure Sport DLC is going for. Once in a while, I will let fashion win out over functionality.
The Adventure Sport DLC dial works well because it begins by applying tried and true rules of analog dial legibility and proportions. The hour hands and hour markers contrast well over the face, and the hands are all the right size. Even though Norqain uses a special texture for the face itself, it only enhances the personality of the dial without taking away from core readability (the texture is more subtle in real life than it is in Norqain’s marketing shots). I also like the off-white cream color Norqain chose to use for the luminant color on the hands and hour markers. They call the color “old radium,” which is amusing since actual radium is both radioactive and dangerous. (This is Super-LumiNova.) Pure white color wouldn’t have looked as interesting, and this cream color adds a sense of organic warmth while preserving the Adventure Sport DLC’s tool watch spirit.
Helping to add style to the watch is the affixed plate on the left side of the Adventure Sport case, which is a hallmark of most all Norqain watches right now. By default, it says the Norqain name, but for a small price Norqain will engrave one with a special message or even graphic on it. To help highlight this fact, Norqain sent me two additional plates to attach to the side of the case. It is a real plate, so you can screw it off and put a new one in place. It is further nice to see this feature available on the DLC version of the watch. I think it would be a shame to order a watch from Norqain and not at least seriously consider personalizing the side plate.
Inside the Adventure Sport DLC watch is one of the most nicely decorated Swiss-made ETA 2824-2 automatic movements. The 2824 is a very popular automatic time/date movement used mostly in watches a bit less expensive than the Adventure Sport. So on the one hand, I do feel that at this price point, consumers might expect a slightly more exclusive movement. That said, the 4Hz, 38-hour power reserve performance of the movement is acceptable, and as I said, Norqain was able to decorate the 2824 movement inside very well. The brand itself refers to this movement at its calibre NN09.
Attached to the case is a good-quality black rubber strap. (There is lots of bad quality rubber out there.) I found the strap to be both comfortable and helpful in snugly securing the watch to my wrist despite activities such as biking and jogging, as well as when wet with sweat. The right strap can make you wear a watch much more often during sports activities, whereas, in contrast, the wrong strap can easily have you choose to not wear an otherwise fine adventure-style watch.
When Norqain first showed me the Adventure Sport collection, I wasn’t wowed, but I said “that’s acceptable.” After wearing the Adventure Sport DLC, I have to say that this product’s focus on legibility and comfort really helped sell it for me. It will take a few more years before the Adventure Sport model develops more of a personality within the timepiece community, but already it has the right mixture of conservative familiarity and trendy modern elements that can make it an immediate hit.
Price for the Adventure Sport DLC is a bit more than the stock steel (there are also two-tone with gold models) Norqain Adventure Sport, but the premium is reasonable given that a specialist third-party facility must carefully DLC-coat each individual part of the case. The standard Adventure Sport in steel is $1,830 USD, and the reference NB1000 Norqain Adventure Sport DLC watch is a fair $2,170 USD.
>Model: Reference NB1000 Adventure Sport DLC
>Price: $2,170 USD
>Size: 42mm wide, 12.8mm thick, and ~40mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: When wanting to engage in a sporting activity and still wanting to look cool and wear a luxury mechanical timepiece in the process.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Youthful though conservative luxury watch lover seeking a reasonably priced “beater” to wear while active and look slick in the process.
>Best characteristic of watch: Total package works together well and certainly feels like a luxury timepiece that competes in the same arena as more established and more expensive brands. Comfortable to wear, good dial legibility, case fit, and finish.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Hard to find much fault with the overall package unless the overall aesthetics don’t appeal to you. In a sense, the design is a bit more derivative than original, though that’s somewhat intentional. Probably a bit too high of price point for an ETA 2824 movement, but otherwise components feel more than premium.