Corum Celebrating 65 Years Of Avant-Garde History In 2020 (Plus Videos)
If you’ve read Bridging Art and Mechanics: The Unabridged Story of the Corum Golden Bridge, you probably already know that 2020 marks the 65th anniversary of Corum, an independent watchmaker founded by René Bannwart in 1955.
To celebrate its history, the creative watch company located in La Chaux-de-Fonds invited a few people to its factory to look at some lovely vintage pieces and talk about what Corum has meant to them.
Corum made a few short films in celebration of the anniversary, two of which you can watch below. One features a handful of well-known watch people (including yours truly), while the second one is a brief discussion between Peter Chong of Deployant and I on the iconic status of the Golden Bridge – celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year – and other brand pillars such as the Admiral’s Cup.
This film also introduces the avant-garde brand’s new tagline: Risk is the Reward.
The faceted sapphire crystal watch above, which I have now learned was called Prism and which I place as having been made in the 1980s, is perhaps a good example. It features a heavily skeletonized and engraved manually wound movement in a round, 18-karat yellow gold case. The really crazy and certainly avant-garde element, though, is the highly faceted crystal, which never stops shimmering as you move your wrist. What a delight!
Unfortunately, the people who work at Corum now do not know a whole lot about this specific timepiece, so I’m not certain whether it was made before or after the first the Golden Bridge 1980; however, my guess is that the timing of the two weren’t far apart as that was the brand’s very creative phase in sapphire crystal.
The characteristics of sapphire crystal made it the perfect choice for use in 1980’s Golden Bridge concept: perfect transparency from every angle; high durability; permanent luster exuding luxury and brilliance thanks to its high refraction index, not dissimilar to diamond; and extreme resistance to scratching.
Interestingly, only one unisex Golden Bridge model was created at the beginning because company founder René Bannwart was keenly aware that a case’s dimensions had to naturally correspond to the anatomy, form, and size of the wearer’s wrist – which is why he chose the rectangular shape.
Bannwart also felt that women could wear larger wristwatches if they were shaped correctly (though seen through the lens of today’s trending case sizes, this watch does appear small to us).
The undoubtedly unique historical piece in 18-karat yellow gold and diamonds shown above has a dial and flanks in ruby heart, a precious stone with beautiful shimmering properties that make it an outstanding choice as a dial material.
Then there is the iconic Coin Watch, which made its debut in 1964, with the first 12 examples sold out before they could even reach 1965’s Basel Fair.
These were the world’s first wristwatches made using a coin to house a mechanical movement; previous to Corum’s experimentation, the style had only been used for pocket watches.
Corum, a master of funky advertising in the brand’s early days, first cleverly advertised these innovative timepieces with the tagline “time is money,” later changing it to “time in money.”
It’s easy to see why the “time is/in money” slogan was so apt: Corum founder René Bannwart and his team used one-half of an authentic, very carefully cut gold coin as a watch dial, placed an ultra-thin movement underneath it, and then closed it up with the other half of the coin as the case back.
The resulting watch was almost as thin as the original $20 gold coin it started from, an amazing feat.
I hope you enjoyed dipping your toe into Corum’s artistic history as much as I did. And I certainly hope that Corum continues to show these heritage pieces to the public on every occasion it can find.
For more information please visit www.corum-watches.com.
Quick Facts Corum Coin Watch
Case: 43 x 7.6 mm, silver with blue sapphire (0.17 ct) set into crown
Dial: silver one-dollar coin
Movement: automatic Caliber CO 082 (base ETA 2892), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: CHF 14,900
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Thank you, Elizabeth, for bringing back the memory of the famous Corum brand and designs (all sadly from the past). Coin Watch(es), Golden Bridges, Rolls Royce, Peacock Feather … Corum was so avantgarde, so chic, so élégant, so very much applied art in watchmaking. And today? A bit insignificant, uncourageous, and arbitrary. We need you to organise a public opinion storm to bring back Corums famous designs : ))) schwere Aufgabe. Being serious, in the end it is the customer. If customers and young collectors won’t buy courage, chic and avantgarde … dann verschwindet wohl die mutige Kunst von Corum, schluchz.
Thank you for your appreciation of this brand and this article, Thomas! It was thrilling to see so many beautiful historical Corum pieces and even try them on. I certainly hope there is a renaissance!
I bought my Rose Gold Golden Bridge 113.550.55 back in 2009, new, and wear it on special occasions.
As a life-long watch collector/enthusiast, I consider this to be the most unique piece in my collection.
Never fails to draw attention (part of the fun of it !). Keeps perfect time, and is a work of art.