The thing with affordable mechanical watches, is that by nature they will have less complications. We typically see 2 and 3-handers, dates and day-dates, the occasional chronograph and, rarer still, a complete calendar. But, of the complications, the one we see the least often, in fact we’ve only reviewed one to date, is the moon phase. Though not the most useful of complications, they have a certain charm and classical aesthetic that makes them very desirable, especially as formal watches. The mechanical movements are scarce, complex and therefore very expensive. So, what to do if you want one on a budget?… Go quartz of course.
For their first release, Carnot set out to create a watch that exudes class and is affordable, but features a complete calendar. If moon phases are uncommon, complete calendars are unheard of. The addition of month, day and date adds another level of function and several of complexity, making mechanical options prohibitive. The result is the Riviera, a 40mm dress watch with elegant looks that touches on classical and early 20th century designs. Coming in at $349 pre-order, $499 MSRP, the Riviera features a Swiss-Made Ronda 706.4 quartz movement, sapphire crystal and gold PVD.
The dial of the Riviera is a play classic designs, giving it a more modern feel. The surface, in either white or black, has a guilloché-esque wave pattern that radiates from the center. The main index consists of chunky, gold-pvd applied markers, encircled by a dense printed minute/second index. There is something about the spacing and proportioning that works very well here. The elements are balanced and come off clean. The inclusion of sub-seconds in the index is a bit bewildering though given the movement.
The center of the dial has a four-eye layout which is typical for a calendar, with the month at 12, date at 3, moon phase at 6 and day at 9. Despite there being 4 sub-dials, Carnot did a good job of keeping everything reserved, so there is no clutter. The font is clean, and has a modern feel, and there is a decent amount of negative pace. It’s surprisingly subdued. The moon phase at 6 is a disk of the moon on a starry sky that sits below the dial, peering through a particularly shaped aperture. The space beneath is used for the Carnot logo, which too is clean. Finishing the look are extra wide leaf hands in faux-tempered blue and gold on the white and black dials respectively.
The case measures 40mm in diameter with an 8mm thickness and 20mm lugs. It’s only available in PVD rose gold at this time. From the photos, the design appears elegant, with a mix of brushed and polished finishing, beveled lugs and a rounded, tiered-bezel. It’s dressed up, but not showy. There are sunken pushers at 4 and 8 for setting various calendar functions.
While I find the look appealing, there are some things I would love to see in the next model. A steel case option to start, followed by a reduced size. Pull in the diameter to 38 and drop the minutes/seconds index as is, perhaps adding thin hash marks for the minutes between the applied markers. Lastly, toss the second hand getting rid of the tick, and keeping the watch cleaner and more refined. Considering it measure months and the motion of the moon, seconds seem a bit trivial.
That said, the Carnot seems like a solid option for those looking for this aesthetic, the complexity of a complete calendar and the novelty of a moon phase, without spending too much. I while I prefer steel cases on my watches, there is a logic to having a watch like this in rose gold, that you only break out for special, formal occasions. The white dial model in particular would look very nice peaking out from under a dark grey suit sleeve.