You may not be familiar with Norquain, a Swiss company founded in 2018, but its newest watch is powered by a movement with a connection to a company you're sure to be aware of: Tudor.
Norquain boats an impressive horological dynasty within its management: founder Ben Küffer's father, Mark Küffer, has worked in watches for over 45 years — 25 of them on the Board of Directors for the Swiss Watch Industry Association — and sits on the company's board. Family members Ted Schneider, whose family owned Breitling for 40 years, also sits on the board. In short: the Norquain team is stacked, and their newest watch boasts what they're referring to as a "manufacture calibre" — an "in-house" movement.
The Independence 20 Limited Edition, is powered by the cal. NN20/1 from movement maker Kenissi. Kenissi is Tudor's movement manufacturer, and produces all its in-house movements except for the chronograph caliber MT5813, which is made in collaboration with Breitling.
So what does this mean for die-hard, in-house movement devotees, those whose admiration for a particular watch hinges upon the idea that its movement is produced by a vertically integrated company? The answer is slightly murky. Kenissi has been quietly operating in the background for a few years now, and though it appears that the company was founded as the movement arm of Tudor, Chanel, whose J12 is powered by the Kenissi calibre 12.1, also owns a 20% stake in the business.
The definition of the term "in-house" seems to be fluid even amongst watch industry veterans, and the debate rages on. However, it should be noted that even Rolex, Tudor's big brother, didn't purchase movement make Aegler until 2004 — their move to "complete" vertical integration is less than 20 years old. So what's the takeaway? Ultimately, the production of an in-house movement by a fully vertically integrated company is certainly impressive from a business standpoint, but should it matter that much to a watch buyer? Hell, manually wound Daytonas featured Valjoux movements, and classic, multi-million dollar complicated Patek references also used Valjoux and Lemania-based calibers.
It's the individual buyer who must decide how much importance he or she places on this idea. Does Norquain's use of Kenissi calibers and Chanel's stake in the company separate the manufacturer from Tudor in your mind? Does the BB58 suddenly seem less impressive a value proposition? Does none of this remotely matter, and one should simply buy a watch that one is attracted to? Thankfully, we're each free to choose our own path in watches.