Introducing the Norqain Independence 40MM Hakuna MipakaBy Troy Barmore
Of all the new watch companies to appear within the past few years, and there have been a great many indeed, few have risen to prominence with the same ballistic trajectory as Norqain. Established in 2018, the Swiss start-up wasted very little time in carving out a unique niche in the market, emphasizing socially conscious and environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques and partnership initiatives along the way.
Last September, Norqain announced their first collaboration with Dean Schneider, a former financial advisor and entrepreneur. After enjoying significant success early in his career, Dan Schneider gave it all up in order to pursue his true passion and calling – wildlife preservation. Thus the Hakuna Mipaka Oasis, located in South Africa, was born. Unlike many nature preserves, Hakuna Mipaka does not exist for the benefit or enjoyment of tourists, but rather is a true sanctuary for the wildlife that calls the near 4 million square meters of protected wilderness home. There are no tours. There is no breeding, selling, or trading. This is a place for animals to live and be rehabilitated in peace.
The first watch launched in collaboration with and in support of the Hakuna Mipaka Oasis was the Wild One Hakuna Mipaka, an addition to the adventurous Wild One series with a jet-black lion fur-inspired dial and matching strap. Today, Norqain continues this collaboration in similar feline ferocity with the addition of the Independence 40mm Hakuna Mipaka. This DLC-coated stainless steel timepiece is intended as the feminine counterpart to the larger Wild One Hakuna Mipaka – a his and hers of sorts. Featuring a slightly more prominent monochrome leopard print pattern upon the dial and the velour-esque rubber strap, the watch is punctuated by rose gold luminous indices, faceted hands, and a matching rose gold Hakuna Mipaka insignia at 6 o’clock.
In a similar way to its predecessor, this timepiece is a perfect example of what collaborations should be – a clear, defined example of both Norqain’s values and design aesthetics, blended with and making reference to the persona of the partner in question. The exotic animal print and commitment to animal cruelty-free practices successfully convey why Norqain and Hakuna Mipaka Oasis came together in the first place. Though as with their first release, the cooperation is not merely limited to design as 10 per cent of proceeds of the watch will be donated to the Hakuna Mipaka Oasis in order to further the conservation work within the preserve.
Being labeled as a woman’s watch in a time when the gendering of watches is becoming more liminal by the day poses certain questions. What does a woman’s watch need to be? Are such labels really necessary any longer? Indeed, the limitations on what makes a woman’s watch different from a man’s watch are becoming as archaic and ultimately unnecessary as the limitations on femininity itself. Despite that, conventions are slow to evolve, as are consumer habits. Undoubtedly there are still demographics which respond to such demarcations and reinforce them with purchases. With all of that said, the differentiations are becoming more opaque by the day.
Where once a feminine watch needed to be confined to very expected style cues, i.e. diminutive, delicate, or demure, femininity in this instance, is detailed, distinct, and daring. In keeping with the spirit of the Wild One Hakuna Mipaka, the Independence 40mm Hakuna Mipaka is a watch that is intended to be worn, used, and adventured. It’s design emphasis that is both refreshing and desperately needed.
With its distinct feline pattern, though presented in an attenuated black and grey color scheme, the leopard print motif both acknowledges and challenges the confines of traditional fashion conventions. Where a touch of animal print can provide a pop of color, a suggestion of texture, or a playfully brazen accent to an overall outfit, presenting the pattern in this way, punctuated by bright rose gold details and house in a category defying 40mm case, sends a clear message: Yes, this watch is intended for women. No, it is not tiny, mild, or delicate – It is big. It is bold. It is badass.
Movement: Automatic winding caliber NN08 (SW200-1), COSC certified; 38 hours of power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date window at 3 o’clock
Case: 40mm DLC black coated 316L stainless steel case; Sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective coating and matching exhibition caseback; water-resistant to 100m
Dial: Black leopard print pattern with rose gold plated luminous markers and matching handset
Strap: Integrated mesh rubber strap in black with matching leopard print pattern
Price: USD $3,690