Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC

Review and photos by Mike Razak

I have on my wrist the Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC. It s a nice looking watch, with good specs, and a pretty strap. Norqain is a Swiss watch brand, run by a Swiss family with an unbearable about of experience in the Swiss watch industry. Started by Ben Küffer in 2018, the brand skipped all the “let’s ease into this” nonsense and just said, ”We are a luxury Swiss watch brand.” Full stop. The Adventure DLC is priced at $2,170. That’s a tick (or many ticks) above the usual fare we review at TimeBum Central HQ. And we review some amazing watches, almost all of which come in well under the price of the Norqain. So: Does it stack up? Does it justify its price? Let’s find out together.

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC
The Adventure DLC features a 42mm 316L case that is, as the name tells you, treated with Diamond-Like Coating to achieve its uniform black finish. It’s a look that works quite well with the rest of the watches aesthetics. It sits well enough on the wrist, though wears more like a 43mm. This is largely due to the polished plate that is fastened to the 9 o’clock side of the watch, which also lends a bit of symmetry to the case. While it comes engraved with “Norqain,” the brand will allow you to engrave it with whatever you want. Like “FancyBoii” or “This is the end of everything.” or “Mike’s Swiss Watch” or “Norqain Engraving.” It’s an interesting if slightly gimmicky effect that will run you $160. Not worth it in my opinion, but maybe if you’re giving it as a gift, it could be nice: “Love U Dad” or something classy like that.

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC

The case is uniformly brushed, save for a long polished chamfer that extends along the top of the case side from lug to lug, slightly broadening as it reaches either end. It’s quite subtle, not disrupting anything, but adds a touch of elegance to the case, pulling it away from super-sporty. A knurled bezel, however, reinforces the “Sport”. The 60-click stainless steel bezel, which features a lumed pip and graduated timing hashes, is functionally exceptional: the tension is perfect and the knurling makes it easy to grip. I just used it to time some food in the oven and remarked—aloud—“Oh, that’s nice!” to my wife, who was not paying attention and did not care. The hashes are only engraved, with no other applications to improve readability. The screw-down crown is unremarkable, engraved with a Norqain logo (mirrored N's symbolizing the Swiss Alps) and providing for 100M water resistance. It lacks crown guards, which is probably not a real issue, though on a watch this sporty might preferred by some. Additionally, it does not decouple (so you aren’t winding while you screw it back down), which I expect of a watch at this price point. 22mm lugs curve a full 90 degrees, giving the profile of the watch a bracket shape. Drilled lugs would have been nice, and given the lugs’ size and shape, and the location of the lug holes, it’s hard to imagine why Norqain didn’t opt for them.

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC

A double-coated, domed sapphire crystal protects a unique dial. Norqain refers to it as a “special Norqain pattern,” which is at once very vague and very proprietary of them. It catches the light beautifully, at an angle appearing very similar to carbon fiber dials, and straight on appearing more like a simple basketweave. A flat black chapter ring surrounds the dial, featuring minute markers and 1/4 second markers, that will finally allow you to answer the questions: “To the nearest 1/4 second, how long did it take you to dive under your desk and turn your surge protector back on?”

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC

Bridging the chapter ring and the edge of the dial are elongated trapezoidal markers, with baton-shaped lume plots, with a double at 12 o’clock. They’re filled with Old Radium Super-LumiNova, as is the handset, which is very slightly faceted (nigh on imperceptibly so). The second hand features a triangle and red-tipped end. The lume on the hands is both more even and brighter than that on the dial markers, making for an uneven appearance. While I expect an even application across all lume on any watch, much less a watch at this price, it's perfectly legible in the dark.  A 3 o’clock date window features a thin frame that lends some intentionality to the aperture's inclusion, as does the matching black date wheel. Completing the dial is the Norqain name and logo up top, with the depth rating at 6 o’clock in beige, along with the “Automatic” designation in red to match the second hand.

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC

Flipping the watch over, the DLC caseback is brushed with a bunch of peripheral text that doesn’t matter. Bless the people at Norqain, because they know we can only remember so much for so long: if you’re flipping the watch over and have already forgotten the depth rating as indicated on the dial, you’ll find it on the caseback as well. The model designation (NB1000) and the serial also features, along with the Norqain name, and the watches composition details and origin story. A sapphire crystal case back displays allows for a more meaningful emotional connection between the watch and your wrist. And it shows off the NN09 (ETA 2824 elaboré grade) movement with “Norqain”-engraved rotor. If you don’t know about the ETA 2824 movement, it’s good (the elaboré grade will get you +/- 7 seconds per day), will run for 38 hours, and means you can have the watch serviced anywhere, by any competent watchmaker.

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC

Let’s talk straps. The stock strap is olive green and of a material Norqain refers to as a “Nordura” strap—it's basically Cordura, but that's trademarked. The strap itself is handsome and feels good to the touch, but is quite stiff. Makes-the-watch-pop-up-and-sit-weird-on-your-wrist-because-it-won’t-bend-to-the-contours stiff. Strapping it in the first time was a bear, and a not a cute cub. Mama bear. And I got the watch from a fellow reviewer who said he’d tried to break it in. You can tell that the strap will eventually break-in, and while there was some initial discomfort, it did get a bit more pliable as I wore it. It features a leather backing and a branded DLC clasp. Honestly, I think it will turn into a great strap over time, but I wish it was a great strap right away. I’ve dealt with other Cordura options that are soft and flexible right out of the box, so there’s no cause for that not to be the case here.

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC

Norqain saved themselves from a failing grade on the strap by providing the rubber strap for the review, though the stock strap simply needs to be better. As if they anticipated these issues, the brand sent me—separately—one of their rubber straps, which is available as an option in lieu of the Cordura strap. It was quite comfortable and featured a knurled pattern that intentionally echoes the bezel. Because I just can’t help myself, I tried the watch on a few extra straps, including two NATOs and my reliable silicone from Barton. It paired and wore well with them all, which is great news for us strap fiends.

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC

Aside from the strap issue, and some potential improvements to the case, the Adventure Sport Auto DLC is a very fine watch. Norqain clearly knows how to make a timepiece that looks good and wears well. I think there are comparable pieces at lower price points, but perhaps none that are identical to the Norqain. It’s an attractive watch, but it's simply out of my budget. But it may be right in your wheelhouse, financially and aesthetically. And if that's the case, I think the value is there, and I don't think you'll be disappointed (though be ready for a decent break-in period if you opt for the "Nordura" strap). The watch is available in 6 different iterations, ranging from $1,590 to $4,380 (it's got red gold!), and you can check them all out on the Norqain website.

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC lume

Norqain Adventure Sport Auto DLC


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