It may not seem so, but the market for reasonably priced, well-made, and very well-styled timepieces is actually getting a bit crowded. Indeed, finding a sub-US$500.00 watch that you can wear with pride to the office, a dinner party, or out on the town has gotten much easier over the past two years or so.
A brand with which many Americans may be unfamiliar, Corniche, has deftly created a new market within this already new market. Where many of the other “affordable luxury” watches have a certain ubiquitous look and feel to their design and market positioning (e.g., classic preppy-inspired image with nautical bracelets and a background of what looks like Cape Cod), Corniche is decidedly more mature and elegant.
The heavy and balanced 40mm case has substantial wrist presence and its simple but bold face, along with the signature dauphine style hands, present a distinctive and masculine look. The lack of seconds hand and date aperture reinforce the minimalist design approach, but the watch itself is not stark by any means. A ceramic dial, hand-applied markers and a wide, polished bezel create an arresting visual presence that telegraphs two important things: 1. this is a nice watch and you may wish to lean in and try to see the maker’s name, and 2. this is a watch with a distinctive look and personality.
Not exclusively a dress watch, the Heritage 40 plays well with casual outfits too. Depending on how you expect to use it, choose your finishes to match your style, lifestyle, and preferences.
Corniche did not set out to create a clone of a high-end brand or to offer another me-too dress watch. Rather, they wanted to establish a brand that was casually smart and reflected their love of the Cote D’Azur with all its simple, luxurious elegance.
As an homage to this inspiration, the case back of each watch is adorned with the engraved image of a Mediterranean pine tree, which is native to the region. The Corniche website notes that, “much like the Eiffel Tower epitomizes Paris, its iconic silhouette is a classic along the rocky coasts of Southern France.”
Powered by a trusty Japanese Miyota 2025 quartz movement, the watch is of course accurate and the battery will last for several years. While the horological purists among us may scoff and preach the sermon of mechanical movements, this is a watch for someone who seeks quality, affordability, function, and style.
And to that end, the details and quality components that go into the Heritage 40, regardless of which face design you chose, are what set Corniche apart. In fact, far apart.
We have both the black and brown alligator embossed leather straps. While our everyday preference is for the brown strap, both are made exceptionally well and the 22mm lug spacing provides the kind of visual watch-to-strap ratio that we love. Last but certainly not least, the butterfly clasp, solid and secure, is a great touch that adds to the list of details which to us place Corniche in a completely different category than its competitors.
We should also note that the presentation of the Corniche watch is, frankly, remarkable give its price point. And while packaging is not what makes a watch great, in this case they add to the physical and emotional narrative that says you are purchasing something special.
Both the outer cardboard box and inner presentation box are full-sized and finely constructed. The branding is clear but also tastefully restrained. Once you open the articulated outer case, you face a polished presentation box encased in a jeweler’s cloth liner and a separate slot for the owners manual and certificate. The presentation box is elegant, solid, and would be at home protecting a watch costing three times as much.
Taken together, all the elements so artfully assembled by the Corniche team has created a distinct brand and a distinctive timepiece. The overall message is clear – when all is said and done, you’ve got yourself a nice watch.