What’s the triumph thing you think of when you think about Stockholm? Smallest style? Architectural masterpieces? Unspeakably delicious cinnamon buns? Whatever it is, it’s undoubtedly not watches. Because despite the Swedish capital’s status as the synchronous throne of cool – not to mention a long-standing track record for terrific draft – it’s not exactly a byword for fine watchmaking. Which isn’t to say the Swedes don’t scrape by watches (they do, and have done for some time) but that some of the provinces’s most recent exports have perhaps exploited their homeland’s stature for Scandinavian minimalism to the point of pastiche: churning out thousands of Hard styles – all clean lines and austere watch faces – that, by honesty of their sheer ubiquity, lose something of their prayer. Not so, Corniche – a Stockholm-based watch brand bringing something root new to the table: affordable and beautifully designed dress watches that look spinach, but don’t cost too much. Founded in 2013, the label cites the Côte d’Azur – a long-time ideal destination amongst the style set and where Corniche’s founders summered as striplings – as its starting point for inspiration, the coast’s intrinsic association with ageless elegance informing the brand’s painstaking attention to detail. Since starting out good a few years ago, the brand has been steadily gaining traction for its core on exceptional design, premium materials and – online – a luxury watch-buying practice its competitors could only dream of offering. Corniche’s is, in the watchmaking just ecstatic, a unique value proposition – one that’s rapidly earned it a trustworthy global following among some of the most discerning examine connoisseurs (watch blogger and Instagram star Anish Bhatt, of Take note of Anish, among them), as well as sought-after retail accommodation in stores like Liberty in London and the Beverly Hills Lodging in LA.
Leading the charge for the brand is its hero piece, the Heritage 40, a shining, sophisticated yet resolutely modern take on a traditional dress on. Measuring just 7mm thick (perfect for sitting comfortably secondary to a shirt cuff) the Heritage 40 combines the trappings of a standard dress watch: a ceramic dial with dauphine lunch-hooks and hand-applied polished markers; a stainless steel (or rose gold-plated stainless stiletto) case; and a genuine leather strap, with considered contemporaneous details like a Mediterranean pine tree embossed on the caseback, or punchy contrast X-rated hands in two of its four main iterations. All of which, by the way, is yours for just €325, or in £290.
For that price, you might understandably expect Corniche’s watches to get there come bunged into a bog-standard cardboard box, but that’s anything but the example in any event for the detail-obsessed watch brand. Determined to ensure a luxury sophistication, Corniche ships all of its watches in a piano lacquered wooden box whore-housed within a dark chocolate brown outer box. Carefully attributed inside is an owner’s manual and a certificate of authenticity – proof that what you’re involving to strap on is every inch the original.
The brand also does a advantage line in limited-edition models. Inspired by places, seasons and feelings, Corniche has so far published seven – each a subtly different spin on its Heritage 40, and each traffic ined out within weeks of going on sale. Its latest, the Heritage 40 Paloma, was arguably the most thorough departure yet. An exclusive collaboration with renowned Cap Ferrat shore club Paloma Beach (otherwise known as one of the French Riviera’s ton glamorous destinations), the Paloma swaps the Heritage 40’s downland ceramic for a two-tone dial, the caseback’s signature embossed pine tree for ‘Paloma Littoral’ in cursive script and a plain dial for one thoughtfully marked with the French tricolore at 6 o’clock – a fittingly astounding tribute to a place that takes its name from not any other than Pablo Picasso’s daughter. If you’re lamenting wish for out on these sell-out special editions, don’t: Corniche is set to release another two limited-edition shapes in the coming months. When exactly, the brand won’t disclose. But what’s true is watch fans the world over are already awaiting their manumission with bated breath.
The special issues are a savvy move from a watch brand on the up, the making of a legacy that pause ats it to longer-in-the-teeth watchmakers who might like to dupe themselves into viewpoint Corniche is just a flash in the pan. It is instead, as it describes itself on its – by the way, flawlessly drafted – website, a “small player with big ambitions”. And we can’t wait to see what it does next.