The answers with…Ben Küffer, CEO and co-founder of Norqain

By Haziq Yusof 19 January, 2024
Photo of Ben Kuffer sitting down

The Answers With… Ben Küffer, CEO and co-founder of Norqain, the independent watch brand that’s captivating a new wave of watch enthusiasts

Navigating the realm of Swiss watchmaking is a formidable challenge. Enthusiastic newcomers, eager to partake in this distinguished industry, frequently face dismissal as mere upstarts. Yet, the extraordinary success of the independent watch brand Norqain stands as a testament that not only is it possible to break through, but it can also be achieved with remarkable triumph.

The helmsman of Norqain’s groundbreaking journey is CEO and co-founder, Ben Küffer. A scion of Swiss watchmaking heritage, (his father led Roventa-Henex, a prominent private label Swiss watch manufacturer), Küffer has always been immersed in the world of horology. This intrinsic connection, further honed by an eight-year tenure at Breitling, laid the groundwork for his ambitious venture. But even with this rich heritage, few would have predicted the success of Norqain when Küffer, alongside industry veteran Ted Schneider and ice hockey icon Mark Streit, introduced the brand in 2018.

Portrait Photo of Norqain CEO Ben Küffer
Ben Küffer co-founded Norqain in 2018. Photo by Norqain

Küffer has swiftly steered Norqain to its unique place in the watchmaking world, garnering critical acclaim and fervent admiration. Forging Norqain’s ethos of exploration and adventure, Küffer ensures that every Norqain timepiece is a lifelong companion, chronicling one’s significant moments and ventures. This approach is inspired by both the brand’s and Küffer’s own philosophy, “My life, my way.” 

What advice do you wish you’d followed?

You cannot skip stages and jump ahead. When we first introduced Norqain to the market, its identity and branding weren’t sharply defined. To this day, I wish we had taken more time to work our image before launching the brand. 

Do you have any personal rituals?

I like to wake up early and get a head start to the day by checking and responding to my emails. As soon as my children wake up, I will spend some quality time with them before heading out. This morning ritual always helps me feel motivated and balanced. 

When was the last time you felt truly inspired?

I love feeling inspired; I believe it is a powerful motivator in life. One recent story that touched me came from my brother during the Berlin Marathon, where we served as the official timekeeper. There was a person who nearly couldn’t complete the race, and a group of people came together to assist them in crossing the finish line. It inspired me because it showcased humanity’s kindness and mutual support, all while embodying that ‘challenger’ spirit to finish the race. Apparently, once she reached the finish line, she was completely exhausted but incredibly happy. That’s what life is about.

What does success look like to you?

For me, it is a sense of happiness. Getting up in the morning and looking forward to what you do, and always being driven by passion. 

Photo of Norqain Adventure Sport 42mm
Norqain watches are designed for those who love adventure. Photo by Norqain

What’s a book or film that has profoundly impacted your perspective on life and business?

As the founder of a brand, “Shoe Dog” speaks to me. Witnessing the journey of a remarkable brand like Nike, understanding the highs and lows it faced in the early stages, resonated deeply with the entrepreneurial experience. From an external perspective, a brand may seem flawless, but in reality, there are numerous challenges. The book underscores the importance of navigating these challenges and finding the resilience to rise again. It has been a huge source of inspiration for me.

How have your personal experiences shaped your leadership style in the business world?

The most transformative experience for me has been becoming a father. Parenthood teaches you how to navigate various challenges, from sleepless nights to juggling responsibilities as a parent and business owner. It marked a moment of maturity for me, enabling me to lead with greater calmness and reflection.

What personal achievements are you most proud of outside of your career?

My biggest achievement is my family. I am married and a proud father of two. Beyond family, it’s sports. I am happy with my modest football career and appreciate how it unfolded. I consider myself very lucky.

What was the first watch you loved?

Like everyone, the first watch you truly own holds special meaning. In my case, it was a Breitling, the Hercules model. 

When was the moment you knew you wanted to start Norqain?

Following the transition to private equity ownership at Breitling, I was analysing the watch market and I noticed a scarcity of independent watch brands, particularly in the lower luxury price segment. The motivation struck me during the summer break when I had some time to think, and it became apparent that there might be a way for me to pursue this opportunity.

How do you handle the demands of leading a luxury watch brand?

My wife plays a crucial role. She’s truly remarkable and holds everything together in our family. Acting as a significant support, she contributes to the company by working at Norqain two to three days a week. Her support extends both at home and in the office. Personally, I strive to concentrate on life’s most essential aspects. Regardless of the circumstances, maintaining a positive outlook is a key aspect of my approach.