Is the new Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm better than the Tudor BBGMT?Zach Blass
I first encountered Norqain in the metal at the COUTURE Watch & Jewellery show in Las Vegas. I had heard of the brand prior, and one of the headlining aspects of their watches are their manufacture calibers developed with Kenissi – the same movement developer that Tudor, Chanel, and Breitling use. As we saw in their recent Adventure NEVEREST 40mm collection, introduced in August, the watches utilized the same caliber architecture found in Tudor’s Black Bay Fifty-Eight – a huge draw for those looking for value-driven dive watches that present competitive specifications. Thus, when you factor in the similar price points, calibers, and category segments tackled by each brand a comparison between the two is only natural. Today, only a month later, the collection and comparison expands further with three Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm watches – powered by the same Kenissi caliber that is found in the hot Tudor Black Bay GMT. While Tudor leverages a heritage-driven design, Norqain, as a young up and coming brand, looks towards more modern design cues using colour, patterned dials, and, in certain instances, ceramic bezel inserts that you would not find in any of Tudor’s Black Bay offerings. This begs the question: is the Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm the better offering?
The watch: Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm
There are two case variants between the three watches: stainless steel and DLC-treated stainless steel for a stealthy black aesthetic. Each of the cases, 41mm in diameter, 14.94mm thick, and 48.9mm lug-to-lug, incorporate mixed finishes, with brushed and polished elements to convey a sense of sporting adventure and elegance. The top facing elements and majority of the caseband leverage a utility driven satin-brush, but you find accents of polish on the bevelled shoulders of the lug hoods, crown guards, and engraved Norqain plate which can actually be personalized if you want something other than the brand name to assume the real estate. Framing the dials is a 24-hour scale GMT bezel, with black ceramic inserts that utilize white numerals in the stainless steel configurations and a DLC-treated steel insert with an all black colourway for the DLC variant. Each of the robust cases have depth ratings up to 100 metres, which means you can safely enjoy these watches whether you are desk diving or actually diving.
The common thread between each of the black dials is the “special Norqain pattern”, an intriguing texture that adds more depth than what you would normally find with a sports watch. While all of the bezels, regardless of insert material, are primarily black, the stepped inner bezels that house a 24 hour scale distinguish each watch with bi-colour schemes that convey day and night hours. You have the option of green/white and blue/white for the stainless-steel duo, and orange/white for the DLC variant that rounds out the trio. Whichever colour you choose will have a central GMT hand arrow and “GMT” dial text in a matching colour, creating cohesion throughout its aesthetic. At 3′ you will find a date aperture that is well integrated into the dial, a white on black date disc that blends in with little interruption. All of the central hands and applied hour indices are coated with SuperLuminova®, ensuring visibility in darkness as well.
There are four strap options to choose from: a satin-brushed, four-piece link bracelet, flex fabric strap (akin to what you would find in an Erika’s Originals strap), rubber strap, and an all new robust and water-resistant, vegan-certified rubber NATO strap. The rubber Nato and flex-fabric straps have colour schemes that correspond to the dial colours, as well as buckle systems that match the tone of the case. If you know me, you know I am a bracelet guy – so I would splurge for the bracelet. But I must confess I am intrigued by the idea of a rubber NATO, not something you see every day.
Taking a staring role in this new release is the manufacture caliber NN20/2 created in partnership with Kenissi. This caliber is effectively what you would find in the Tudor Black Bay GMT, with an industrial yet attractive blasted finish, full balance bridge, and “weekend-proof” 70 hours of power reserve. You also have true GMT functionality, with an independent jumping hour GMT hand that can be adjusted without interrupting the timekeeping of the watch. The key difference in Norqain’s NN20/2 is that there is no mention of a silicon hairspring, but unlike the Tudor Black Bay GMT you can actually see the caliber via a sapphire caseback.
The cause: the Butterfly Project
Ten per cent of the earnings generated from NEVEREST collection sales will be donated to the Butterfly Help Project. This organisation, created by Norbu Sherpa and Andrea Sherpa-Zimmermann of Wild Yak Expeditions, helps families of Sherpas who have lost their lives in the Himalayan mountains and give their children access to education. Andrea Sherpa-Zimmermann from Switzerland and Norbu Sherpa, who has successfully climbed Mt. Everest seven times and has earned the title of Sirdar, met in 2011 when Andrea attempted to summit Cho Oyu with Norbu leading the way. They founded Wild Yak Expeditions in 2014 and were married two years later in 2016, when Andrea also conquered Mt. Everest. With Wild Yak Expeditions, Norbu and Andrea not only want to make the dreams of mountaineers and adventurous travellers come true; they also want to give something back to Nepal’s people, who may not have the same chances in life.
They believe that education leads the way to opportunity, which is why Andrea and Norbu founded the Butterfly Help Project. Norqain shares this belief and has committed to sending 50 children to school in 2021 and supporting them in the coming years. The financial aid they receive through the sales of NEVEREST watches will pay for school fees, classroom material, books, uniforms, and athletic equipment.
Final thoughts: Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm vs Tudor BBGMT
There are some interesting trade-offs between the Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm and Tudor Black Bay GMT, and, depending on what you value the most, either can be the more advantageous selection for your collection. The Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm, in my opinion, edges out the Tudor Black Bay GMT externally with fresher colour schemes, textured dials, ceramic bezels (aside from the DLC variant), and a more compact lug-to-lug measurement that is a millimetre or so shorter than the BBGMT (which, for the record, has dimensions of 41mm x 14.5mm x 50.2mm). That being said, if you prefer the classic Pepsi colour scheme of the anodized aluminum bezel, a more anti-magnetic silicon hairspring, an extra 100 metres of water-resistance (a total of 200m), and a watch nearly half a millimeter thinner, then the Tudor may be the way to go. The good news is that whichever you pick would ultimately leave you with one of the best GMT watches at the price point, there is no losing scenario in this matchup.
Comparisons aside, one critique I have for the Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm is its DLC variant. I am not saying it is a bad watch by any means, but, for me, where Norqain stands out from Tudor at their common price point is the incorporation of a ceramic bezel. That element is unfortunately lost in the DLC version of the watch – which is also the most expensive of the three. Unless you really dig the all black aesthetic of the case, and bracelet were you to choose that configuration, I don’t know if I would personally go for the $420 USD or more premium to explore that aesthetic – especially at the cost of losing the ceramic insert.
Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm pricing and availability:
The Norqain Adventure NEVEREST GMT 41mm is available now for purchase via Norqain and Authorized Dealers.
Pricing in USD:
Stainless steel – $3,900.00 on bracelet, $3,760.00 on NATO rubber strap, $3690 on rubber strap, $3,690.00 on Flex fabric strap
DLC stainless steel – $4,500.00 on bracelet, $4,190.00 on NATO rubber strap, $4,120 on rubber strap, $4,100.00 on Flex fabric strap.