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Riding the wave of success

Audrey Simon
Audrey Simon • 9 min read
Riding the wave of success
Riding the wave of success
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Independent and family-owned, Swiss watch brand Norqain makes its presence felt in Singapore by supporting Maximilian Maeder’s journey towards becoming a more proficient kite foiler

Many will think that the watch market is already too crowded to accommodate a newcomer. While some might look at it from another view: New brands can only mean new choices for whatever your taste, style, or budget. Just think of it this way, the current crop of established watch brands also started from nothing and look at where they are today.
The fully-independent Norqain was founded in 2018 by a family-owned Swiss watch company located in Nidau (Bienne), in the heart of the Swiss watch industry. The watch’s DNA is stemmed from the excitement that comes with exploring the road less travelled with three collections: Adventure, Freedom and Independence, all equipped with mechanical automatic movements.
Norqain is a proud partner of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the Official Timekeeper of the Spengler Cup Davos. The link Norqain has to adventure sports has led them to ink a partnership deal with Singapore’s kite foiler champion Maximilian Maeder after his win at the Formula Kite European Championships 2021. In line with the brand’s philosophy, Norqa- in will back him up so he can concentrate on reaching as far as he can in this sport.
Maeder has already proven his mettle by winning several junior world titles in kite racing over the years, he gained more prominence last year when he snagged the top spot at both the Formula Kite Youth (Under-19) World Championships and the men’s Open title at the Formula Kite European Championships.
The latter was a particularly sweet victory for him on two counts: One, he had gone into the final needing three match points to beat his more experienced rival but did not let his nerves affect his composure as he clinched the gold. Secondly, the win took place on his 15th birthday.

The role of a brand ambassador
With Maeder’s collaboration with the independent, family-owned Swiss watch company, he will be provided with branded kites and equipment, which will come in useful for his training and competitions.
Maeder was also offered two internship stints to give him some exposure to the business landscape when he is ready in the future. He will be able to spend six months at Norqain’s headquarters in Nidau, Switzerland followed by another six months at C. Melchers GmbH & Co, whose Singapore branch exclusively distributed Norqain watches in Southeast Asia and Greater China. The 15-year-old Singaporean, has a Swiss father and a Singaporean mother. He is also the world’s youngest Norqainer. He will be in the good company alongside other ambassadors like Swiss entrepreneur and animal rights activist Dean Schneider, Swiss freestyle skier Andri Ragettli and Japanese footballer Shinji Okazaki.

‘Ambitious rebel’
A Norqainer refers to the brand’s collective of authentic and ambitious rebels who go their own way —no matter where the rest of the crowd is heading — and appreciate fine watch making and stylish design.
Currently, in Europe, Maeder tells Options via video chat that “I would like to look at myself as someone who goes against the status quo in my sport, and challenges very fundamental things and asks questions. I believe that can be called being an ambitious rebel and it makes me feel connected to the brand and makes me feel part of this group. And that makes me happy,” he adds.
On his love for the sport, the home-schooled teenager says that his love for kiteboarding began when he was about six years old when his father introduced him to the sport. Maeder says: “[My dad] was into kiteboarding, along with my mother. My father encouraged me to take up the sport because he thought it would be cool for me to try and to get upon a little twin tip board and just have some fun.”
As with most six-year-olds, Maeder was not so keen on the sport at first as he was not sold on the pre-sport preparation regime. He admits that it was a lengthy process, such as getting ready, going to the beach, and then going out to sea. What changed was when Maeder actually took part in competitions and won.
He explains: “I tried racing for the first time and I really liked it. And then I changed to foiling and this was the moment when I wanted to switch to the new board when I was about 10 years old. When I got up over the water with the foil ... that was the moment where it really clicked and I fell in love with the sport.”
With Maeder’s role as Norqain’s brand ambassador, he has gained a wealth of knowledge and an appreciation for the timepieces. “When [Norqain] approached me, I was really happy because their branding values coincide with a lot of mine such as uniqueness, innovation and quality. The brand is rebellious in a good way, they make their own path and I want to be a part of that.”

New perspective
The association with watches has given Maeder a new perspective on craftsmanship. He says that he used to think of watches as jewellery for men and they can get very expensive.
As he grew to learn about the history of fine watchmaking he realised that it was “an artistic expression, a way to express engineering marvels,” Maeder says. He admires how these craftsmen spend a lot of time, discipline and dedication to assemble all the small parts.
He now divides his time between Singapore and Switzerland and he says choosing where to call home can be difficult. The most diplomatic answer he gave is that he spends time training and taking part in competitions in Europe. He comes home to Singapore to get his fix of currypuff, chicken rice and carrot cake. Ultimately, he says: “I would say home is wherever most of my family is.”
Meanwhile, training for the next Olympics Games has begun, he says with humility that his training is nothing impressive as he believes in quality over quantity when it comes to his practices. Maeder explains: “I put in the time when I am training and put in the effort and concentration. You’re at around two to two and a half hours a day, six days a week on average for water time and around five to six hours in the gym per week.”
He continues: “And competitions are proof of all the work you put in and all the discipline you had and showing that you are working towards the goal of striving for excellence in a sport.” Well said, and we shall wait if he will go the way of our other great Olympians like Joseph Schooling, who are flying the Singapore flag high. With Norqain having his back, we are nothing but optimistic for Maeder’s future.

See also: Wearable artistry

For the adventurous
Still not quite familiar with what makes a Norqain watch tick? The main focus of the brand is for those who relish taking the less travelled, hence, the collection takes on three main collections: Adventure, Freedom and Independence. In 2020, Norqain introduced two Manufacture Calibres produced in collaboration with movement manufacturer, Kenissi.

See also: Time’s treasure trove

The Norqain Adventure Neverest Night Sight 40mm DLC Watch features a glow-in-the-dark dial that gives this timepiece its name. The layer of powerful, high-quality X1 Super-LumiNova coats the entire dial – ensuring perfect visibility in any weather condition.
Features to look out for include a bold dial, which is upgraded with a coating of X1 Super-LumiNova that glows green in the dark of night. In the light of day, the black hand-applied and satin-brushed numbers at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock stand out from the sand-coloured background. The facetted light grey hands are set with X1 Super-LumiNova markers for a seamless design and flawless legibility.

Fashioned from stainless steel, the case features both polished and satined finishes. The case, bezel, screwed-down crown, and lugs complete the watch’s rugged look with an all-black DLC coating. Even the Norqain plate on the left side of the case – engraved with “Neverest” – features DLC coating.

Watch is powered by the Manufacture Calibre NN20/1 that can be viewed through the sapphire glass caseback. The COSC-certified automatic movement has a weekend-proof power reserve of 70 hours. The exclusivity of the movement is confirmed by the engraving of the brand’s core values – “Adventure – Freedom – Independence” – on the bridge and the recognisable “double N” logo engraved on the oscillating weight.

Freedom 60 GMT 40mm in midnight blue dial is a limited edition of 300 pieces feature a black and white ring in the centre and the new vegan certified blue Perlon rubber strap produced by one of the industry leaders, BIWI made in Switzerland. The Norqain Freedom family was created for wanderers and explorers who enjoy the freedom of the outdoors.

Here are some tech specs to consider:

NORQAIN Manufacture Calibre NN20/2, mechanical automatic movement, chronometer certified, 28 rubies
Second time zone
Jumping hour GMT feature to easily set local time and change the date forward and backward
Personalised bridge with NORQAIN core values: “Adventure – Freedom – Independence”
Personalised NORQAIN oscillating weight
Power reserve: 70 hours
Balance frequency: 28’800 vibrations per hour (4Hz)

Domed dial – 60s vintage look
Midnight Blue dial
Second time zone with 24hour indication on black and white ring Applied NORQAIN logo
Old Radium Superluminova luminous markers
Faceted bronze hands with Old Radium Superluminova luminous markers

For more lifestyle, arts and fashion trends, click here for Options Section


Material: polished, satined bronze
Plate: Polished NORQAIN plate on the left side of the case made of bronze
Dimensions: 40.5 mm diameter / 14.5 mm thickness / 20 mm lug width / 49.20 mm lug to lug
Water resistance: 10 Bar (100 m / 330 ft)
Crown: Screwed crown with engraved Norqain logo

Double anti-reflective, scratch-proof box type sapphire glass, case back made of stainless steel with bronze PVD coating with scratch-proof sapphire glass

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