Corniche Watches is a new brand from Sweden, but as you might have gathered from the name, they draw inspiration from a more southern locale. "We spent our childhood summers on the French Riviera," they say. "It’s such an amazing place; the dry rocky coastline, the smell of ancient pine trees and the warm evening air filled with the chi-chi-chi of a thousand crickets. Even the Parisians come here in the summer – and we all know how they’re never wrong about anything!" Well, I'm not sure I'd go so far as "anything" (they are dead wrong about mimes, for instance) but I'll admit the French Riviera is a lovely place. If you set out to embody this place in a watch, you have set a very high bar indeed. Does Corniche meet this mark? The Time Bum borrowed a Corniche Heritage 40 to find out.
The Heritage 40 is a mid-sized watch, 40mm wide with a round stainless steel case and curved lugs. It is a svelte 7mm thick, so it slips easily under a shirt cuff. Personally, The Time Bum would have preferred a 38mm case but I recognize that is a minority opinion. I suspect most buyers will be very comfortable with the 40mm as it satisfies current expectations for wrist presence. Truth be told, I found it perfectly reasonable for daily wear. There is not much detail in the case, but it is clean and simple. The upper surfaces and rounded bezel are polished, and the sides are brushed. Rose gold PVD is also an option.
A coin-edged, push-pull crown sits at 3 o'clock. It is polished and signed, but you will find a more impressive decoration on the case back, which is secured with six screws and engraved with a polished image of a Mediterranean Pine on a matte background. It is a pleasant picture that ties into the Côte D'Azur theme.
Even though the Heritage is a dress watch, it is sufficiently durable for daily wear. It features a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and carries a 50m water resistance rating. Inside, a Miyota 2025 quartz ticks away. Frankly, this is not a terribly sexy movement. Like most inexpensive quartz units, it is compact and reliable, but otherwise unremarkable; however, its diminutive size makes the thin case possible, and there is no jumping second hand to betray its presence.
Of course, a dress watch is nothing without a pretty face. To this end, Corniche went with a ceramic dial, a railroad track index, applied polished markers, and peaked dauphine hands. The dial was a glossy black on my Graphite sample, but they also offer a white dial with blue hands. Corniche limits text to just the brand name and model. Overall, it is simple, conservative, and very attractive. The polished hands have a tendency to disappear against the dark background, but their beveled edge mitigates this somewhat. The blue-on-white combination would likely be far more legible under a variety of light conditions.
The supplied 22mm black leather strap has a high sheen and is embossed with a crocodile print. Unlike many new straps, this one was pliable right out of the box which made it easy to work with the signed butterfly deployant clasp. Strap swappers should note that the spring bar seats are positioned high in the lugs, very close to the case. The stock band has curved bars and ends that match the contour of the against the case, but aftermarket straps will be a bit trickier to fit.
Corniche Heritage 40 reflects the casual elegance of the Riviera but departs from it in one significant way. The Côte D'Azur is a pricey place, but the Corniche Heritage 40 is not – it sells for just $345 USD, which is entirely reasonable for a watch with these specifications. Diehard watch nerds will note that you can get an automatic dress watch in this price range, but they will sacrifice the slim profile and grab-it-and-go convenience.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with the Corniche. It is a traditional dress watch, so while it may not break any new ground, it acquits itself nicely as an elegant, conservative choice.
Pro: Slim profile, sleek dial.
Con: Pedestrian movement.