Creating a Hot Swiss Watch Brand in Simply Five Years: The Story of Two Friends


When Ben Küffer and his childhood friend Ted Schneider started Norqain SA in 2018, they knew they were entering the watchmaking business at a time when it was just recovering from a multi-year decline. But their resilience and dedication to their craft paid off, as they managed to build a popular brand in just five years, largely thanks to family connections and financial support.

Today, Norqain watches are available in more than 180 retail locations across the globe, as well as two Norqain boutiques in Singapore and Zermatt, Switzerland. In addition, stores for New York City and Zurich are being planned. 2021 saw Norqain produce 10,000 watches and experience its most successful year yet, with a revenue surge of 117%.

Norqain’s entry-level luxury watches range from 2,000- 6,000 Swiss francs, and are crafted to fill a certain void in the market as brands like Omega move further up the price range. As well as classic, subdued watches, Norqain also offers the Wild One, created with the help of Swiss watch industry legend Jean-Claude Biver. It features a featherweight watch with a proprietary carbon-fiber case and a shock-resisting system, making it desirable for those who engage in sports such as biking, skiing or trail running.

Behind Norquain’s success is its CEO Ben Küffer. After working for Breitling AG for over a decade, Küffer was backed financially by his parents to start the watchmaking business with his friend. His father, Marc, even became the chairman of Norqain’s board, and his connections to the Swiss watchmaking industry have been paramount.

Meanwhile, Ted Schneider’s family owned Breitling before selling it in 2017. Today, Schneider sits on the Norqain board and serves as the director of business development at Swissroc Group. He was instrumental in maintaining the company during the pandemic, when Norqain’s revenue reduced from four million francs to just 22,000 francs in April 2020.

Lastly, Norqain’s success would not be possible without the help of Jean-Claude Biver, who agreed to advise the board of directors in June 2022 and later became an investor. With his help, Norqain created the Wild One, setting it apart from other Swiss watch brands and giving it the boost it needed.

In the end, Norqain’s fast ascent to 10,000 watches a year has been remarkable. This is a testament to the family connections and financial backing Norqain had, as well as its resilience and dedication to creating a unique, original watch. This is a classic example of how determination and hard work can build an empire in just five years.