The Corum Golden Bridge: Chasing The Dragon’s Tail
I have always been a big fan of the Corum Golden Bridge thanks to its mechanical beauty, austere minimalism, and trademark transparency, which paradoxically almost seems mysterious, even though it doesn’t hide a thing.
The Golden Bridge has gone through very few changes over the years despite its age (in 2015 the Golden Bridge turns 35 and the reengineered Golden Bridge turns 10). Its linear movement was reengineered in the early 2000s so as to move the crown position from the back to the between the lugs to improve usability and remedy a spring barrel element that made winding a delicate process.
Around the same time, its transparent case underwent a design refresh to bring it into the twenty-first century. There are now two sizes: one resolutely for men and one called Miss Golden Bridge that is resolutely for women (it was practically unisex before that).
But other than those little tweaks, the watch – which is available in a variety of precious case metals (though not in stainless steel), gemstone settings, and variations on the metallization of the sapphire crystal – has changed little since its introduction in 1980.
Imagine my surprise, then, at Baselworld 2014 to find a Golden Bridge model that managed to capture a little gold dragon between its panes of sapphire crystal.
The creature, which is masterfully engraved in a highly detailed manner (but does not actually breathe fire), entwines its body along the 18-karat gold plates (without actually touching them) of the Golden Bridge’s Caliber CO 113, so that where there was minimalism before, now there is the added element of inspired and meaningful decoration.
A flawless pearl is not held by the creature’s mythical paws, but is set into the tip of its tail.
The pearl is a symbol of wisdom, but it also alludes to the fact that in many mythologies, a dragon is the guardian of some sort of treasure (think about the visually sumptuous Hobbit movies, for example, or the adventurous Nibelungenlied).
The treasure that this detailed dragon with its fierce expression guards is, of course, the Golden Bridge’s Caliber CO 113.
I could not have been more surprised to see how aesthetically it all works so well together. I am personally such a horological purist that for a few seconds I found it hard to accept that another element could be added to the space inside the Golden Bridge’s transparent case without distracting from the austere beauty of the linear, minimalist movement.
But as the shock wore off and I found myself peering into the transparent case, I discovered that not only did these elements work well together, they are also very beautiful juxtaposed inside their horological phantom zone.
Even the reverse side is wondrous: the swishing tail of the dragon crosses the linear red gold base plate, but does not disturb it, detract from it, or distract the eye. The chased red gold of the tail makes for a beautiful contrast to the interplay of the engravings and polishing visible on the 31-millimeter-long plate.
The dragon is created by first pouring 18-karat red gold into a mold, which provides the precise measurements and the raw shape. The engraver then sculpts the dragon into the gold, truly breathing life into it by using a tiny graver tool to create three-dimensional effects. Two weeks later (that’s how long it takes to complete the engraving), the dragon appears to come alive, its tiny scales and its fierce claws meticulously detailed to the last nanometer.
I would truly say that the mythical has met the legendary to make the enchanting Corum Golden Bridge Dragon.
For more information, please visit http://www.corum.ch/en/collection/bridge.
Case: 34 x 51 x 10.9 mm in red gold with or without 396 round-cut diamonds (approx. 4.15 ct); white gold with or without 80 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 3.9 ct) and 312 round-cut diamonds (approx. 1.52 ct); titanium with black DLC coating
Movement: manually wound Caliber CO 113; 40 hours power reserve, 18-karat red gold plates and bridges
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: starting at about $80,000