The Corniche Watches Heritage Chronograph lives up to its name: it looks like something that could have been made decades ago… except for the easy on the eyes modern implementation. I like a two register chronograph. Chronographs hail back to auto, and then aeroplanes, and I like that connection to the days when transportation innovation was a lot more risky, and involved daring and measured amounts of recklessness.
The Corniche Heritage Chronograph is a 39mm diameter watch that sits just 11.5mm tall. It’s a classic two register chronograph, the right side acting as a 24 H am/pm indicator, the left acting as elapsed minutes.
The dial is made of ceramic. The indices are machine-cut and applied. The hour hands look like they were cut by diamonds. The central seconds hand ticks 5 positions per second. It’s topped off with a sapphire crystal.
Corniche is a fancy sounding word. It means, a road that winds along the side of a steep coast or cliff. Corniche Watches thinks of themselves as “complicated, and surprisingly straightforward.”
The movement used inside is a Seiko VK64. This is a reasonably straightforward choice: Seiko has been making movements for years, and this one in particular has the seconds hand snap back to 12, rather than sweep its way back around. In this way, and the 5 times per second tick when timing, it feels a lot like mechanical chronograph movements from days gone by.
The dial has two outer rings on it. The inner ring marks the minute track and has numerals for every 5 minutes elapsed around the dial. The outer ring is the Tachymetre scale. The sub-dials of the ceramic dial are recessed lower, and the hands for the subdials are diamond cut similarly to the large hands. The details work well here.
Using a Tachymetre scale is pretty easy. Start the chronograph timing as you pass your starting point (presumably in your race car.) Push it again when you pass the first mile marker. The central seconds hand will point at your average speed.
The strap is said to be genuine black leather with quick-release function. It felt thin. The quick-release bars and deployment fold-over clasp were nice touches, but this watch deserves better. Fortunately, the strap is an easy change. I would strongly recommend putting one of the suede straps that Corniche offers on the watch. (Interestingly, the Heritage Chronograph uses 20mm lugs, and the straps offered for it in the Corniche store appear to be labeled 18mm. In any case, get a 20mm suede strap for it.)
I rarely talk about packaging, but here Corniche places the watch in a lacquered piano-black box. The pillow inside fits the cavity for it perfectly, and the whole thing was nice to open. Sure, there are people who throw out the box, but I do feel like the first experience opening a product is the first impression, and it sets the tone.
In all, it is a comfort to wear, looks dressy, but can be worn casually, and I enjoyed my time with it. Thanks to the way the hands are cut, I enjoy looking at it in the light, as the sun dances over the sharply beveled surfaces. The pushers are wide flat rectangles, that speak to me of watches made 60 years ago. The ceramic dial has a deep and uniform color that should look as good years in the future as it does today.
The Corniche Heritage Chronograph costs $425 USD. It’s romantic to talk about the fantastic, artisanal hand-made watches, but not everyone has $100,000, or even $1000-$5000 burning a hole in their pocket for a watch. This is a good way to get a watch that will be a good dress watch with great classic vibes. Corniche offers the Heritage Chronograph in silver finish with blue dial, black dial, or in rose gold with black dial, gold hands, and gold applied markers. Get one from cornichewatches.com.
- Brand & Model: Corniche Heritage Chronograph
- Price: $425
- Who we think it might be for: You like a classic watch, a little on the dressy side.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: The case feels a little tall, and the lugs are rather pronounced – it’s not exactly for me, but it’s nice.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Better leather straps, and suede strap offerings. I also wish it had been possible to see a panda version since the subdials are recessed.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: That ceramic dial. The two register chrono. The good hands.
Tech Specs from Corniche
- Case size: 39mm
- Height: 11.5mm
- Case material: stainless steel
- Crystal: sapphire
- Strap: Black leather, with quick release bars and deployant clasp
- Movement: Seiko VK64 Hybrid (sweeping seconds hand)