Corum’s iconic Golden Bridge design
This is not a brand you go to if you want classic, simple, uncontroversial designs. It isn’t as iconoclastic as someone like Richard Mille or MB&F but it certainly disrupts rather than disappears.
Corum is a relatively new brand. It was founded in 1955 by Gaston Ries and his nephew Renee Bannwart and production of the first Corum watches started a year after.
Corum’s name was made very early on in its life with the launch of its Admiral’s Cup watch. The Cup itself – an international regatta that, for years, was known as the unofficial world championship of offshore racing – only started in 1957. Three years later Corum released its Admiral’s Cup watches. The original deisgn was a mould-breaker in that it was square and waterproof – something that is still difficult to achieve. Today it looks very different and instead has a 12-sided design with nautical flags on its bezel.
The Admiral’s Cup watch in 1960 (left) and now
The Admiral’s Cup was the start of Corum’s legacy of producing unusual watches. Next up, in 1966, was the Romulus – named after one of the twins who were the founders of Ancient Rome. Rather than have the numerals on the dial, they were engraved into the bezel, calling to mind some unearthed piece of rock, carved by some long forgotten ancestor.
The Golden Bridge, which would be considered today to be Corum’s most iconic and defining timepiece, followed 13 years later. Its movement was the brainchild of Vincent Calabrese, the man who has since gone on to create Blancpain’s 8-Day Tourbillon and found the hotbed of independent watch talent that is the AHCI (Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants) with Svend Andersen.
The Dollar Watch (left) and the Romulus design
He came up with the idea of a movement with a linear gear train, mounted within a transparent exterior, so there is no visible connection between the watch and its case. It is a breathtaking design that remains unique in the watch world and is a calling card for Corum.
Another such card is the Coin watch. As the name suggests, this has either $20 “Double Eagle” or $10 “Liberty” coin in it, into which Corum inserts either a mechanical or a quartz movement. It is still made today, though becoming increasingly more and more rare as it becomes harder to locate the coins.
The advert for the Chinese Hat watch
There have been other notable release, such as the Chinese Hat women’s watch that had a case whose shape resembled the conical hats Chinese women wore and the Rolls Royce watch (below). This was the first automotive/watch partnership of its kind and resulted in a timepiece that looked like the grill of the British car.
After being purchased by Severin Wunderman in 2000, Corum was, in a shock move in 2013 sold to China Haidian, which also owns Dreyfuss Group and Eterna.
People were worried about what this Chinese investment company would do to the brand but whispers from 2015’s Baselworld suggest that Corum might be having a bit of a renaissance.
Sounds like this is a space that needs to be watched.