The Corum Bubble Is Back!
Back in the early years of the new millennium, I once visited a sapphire crystal maker. That in itself is unusual enough because today no journalist can just call a supplier and make an appointment to see a production process anymore, even if it’s simply to learn so as to write more thoughtfully and knowledgably.
During the course of my visit to learn how watch sapphire crystals are made, the supplier pulled out a very thick crystal shaped like a bubble. Yes, indeed, this was the crystal of Corum’s Bubble, and the manufacturer was very, very proud of his achievement. Not every sapphire crystal maker would have been able to accomplish this, he explained at the time.
Learning about the process so up-close-and-personal has probably made me somewhat of an enthusiast of transparent watches – hence my extreme fascination with Corum’s Golden Bridge over the years.
But whether you really like this particular element or not, one thing remains true: the Corum Bubble was one of the most original watches to ever grace a retailer’s shelf.
Additionally, it was well ahead of its time – especially in size. Then-owner of Corum, Severin Wunderman, was often ahead of his time. The original case size was a whopping 44 mm, which was literally unheard-of in 2000. Combined with the high sapphire crystal jutting out way above the dial, it was impossible to miss this watch on the wrist.
The Corum Bubble was an instant hit.
“They were an immediate success,” Wunderman said in an interview in 2001. “Although it may sound audacious, these models found their market astonishingly quickly, buyers with a feel for design and quality.”
For Wunderman, the Bubble was also a high-profile art canvas and he released dozens of variations of it, all characterized by interesting dials that approximated art – or whatever he had on his mind at the time – in limited editions. “We create these limited series above all for enjoyment and, it must also be said, with a touch of provocation,” he continued in 2001.
Anniversary Bubble: 2015
This year, 2015, represents a number of anniversary dates for Corum. It’s been 60 years since René Bannwart and Gaston Ries founded the company. It’s been 35 since the Golden Bridge appeared on the scene (and ten since the re-engineered Golden Bridge came out). And it’s been 55 years since the Admiral’s Cup came out. Whew.
It’s also been 15 years since Wunderman first introduced the Bubble at the Basel Fair of 2000. In honor of all these “round” birthdays, Corum is bringing out a number of delectable delicacies this year at Baselworld. One of these is a new rendition of the Bubble, surely one of the most unorthodox timepieces to ever see wrist time, for the Heritage collection.
But like other Heritage timepieces, the new Bubble is not simply a replica of what was. Naturally, it has been slightly altered to fit the times. So, instead of maxing out at 44 mm, this new rendition is a striking 47 mm, which lends it a whole new proportion.
No worries, though, as the design team has designed the lugs to hug the wrist, so it sits tight. Taking the high, domed, eight-millimeter-high crystal into consideration, the Bubble stands a whopping 18.8 mm just like its predecessor.
Trust me, no one will ever mistake this for anything other than a new Bubble, and it will never stand for hiding under a shirt cuff.
The Bubble is being released in three variations: two limited editions and one regular edition for the permanent collection.
Let’s start with the two limited editions, only 350 of which are available in each color. Both are outfitted with dials designed in an op art (short for optical art) motif inspired by Hungarian-born French artist Victor Vasarely, founder of the op art movement, using squares of graduated sizes so they appear to grow larger toward the center of the dial.
The effect is naturally magnified by the distorting effect of the tall sapphire crystal. Op art and its patterned impressions of movement and contradictory perspectives work perfectly here.
It is available in two case colors: the Bubble Vintage is housed in a PVD-coated, bronze-toned case, while the Bubble All-Black is – you guessed it – completely coated in black PVD.
The permanent-collection Bubble is skeletonized – something that even Wunderman never thought to do. At least not that I can recall.
And this is one Bubble that you really need to see for yourself. As my colleague Ian Skellern revealed in a surprise for both of us, ” My personal interest is in high-end complications by independent watchmakers and brands, and I have wrists the size of toothpicks. While I had a professional interest in seeing how Corum redeveloped the Bubble for the twenty-first century, I thought that there was as much chance of me liking, let alone wearing, a 47 mm watch as wearing moon boots to work in the summer. But not only did I fall for the look of the new Bubble, it fit very nicely on my wrist. . . . so nicely that I’m looking to buy one!”
For more information, please visit www.corum.ch.
Quick Facts Limited Edition Bubbles
Case: PVD-coated bronze-colored stainless steel or PVD-coated black stainless steel, 47 x 18.8 mm, high domed sapphire crystal 8 mm in height
Movement: automatic Caliber CO 0082 (skeletonized in the collection edition)
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 350 pieces each in PVD-coated bronze-colored stainless steel and PVD-coated black stainless steel
Price: 3,300 Swiss francs