Corum Bubble X-Ray: It Glows Inside!
The development of x-ray technology was a slow affair, with the first evidence of the mysterious rays appearing in 1785. An experiment related to electrical currents in partial vacuums created an x-ray glow, but what it was remained unclear. For more than 100 years, scientists and researchers knew of unidentified radiation emanating from discharge tubes (gas-filled tubes like fluorescent or neon tubes), but never explicitly identified their properties.
In 1895, German physics professor Wilhelm Röntgen accidentally created x-rays while working with various discharge tubes and spent two months investigating their properties before publishing a paper entitled “On a New Kind of Ray: A Preliminary Communication.”
He labeled the radiation phenomenon an “x” ray as it had no defined name. That stuck, though many colleagues suggested the name “Röntgen ray,” which is still used in a handful of languages (including the scientist’s native German).
Once these rays were officially named and their properties documented, wider research began. This resulted in advances in the technology used to create x-rays that also ultimately led to the discovery of the dangers of x-rays.
It turns out that living cells are heavily affected by that specific type of radiation leading to burns, hair loss, and various cancers and death. Still, it took a while for the true dangers to be fully understood, creating a few decades in which x-rays were used somewhat loosely, even to assist in shoe fitting at commercial shoe stores.
As technology and research progressed, the x-ray machines got more powerful and precise. And, most importantly, faster, which limited exposure to the now much better understood radiation. X-ray use continued to expand beyond the obvious medical applications into material science, imaging, and astronomy, each benefitting from every other field’s discoveries.
Our most common experience with x-rays might be at the dentist where the oral hygienist stands behind a thick wall after outfitting us with a lead vest or shield to take a quick snapshot of our teeth. These precautions emerged from decades’ worth of research and some terrible (yet preventable) deaths of researchers, who would certainly be comforted to know that their sacrifices have made for a much safer world altogether.
Other ways to experience x-rays include the images they create: x-ray “pictures” are some of the most incredible scientific images of the human body because they can show us what we weren’t ever supposed to see outside of a gruesome accident.
If you truly love this type of image, Corum has a way to enjoy x-ray images on the wrist with the new Bubble X-Ray, a wild watch for the more adventurous.
The Corum Bubble on its own is a bold watch. It sports a massive domed crystal that acts like a magnifying lens, which distorts the dial unless viewed perfectly straight on (and a little even then). It was first released at Baselworld in 2000 and went on to be a very popular vehicle for artistic expression for Corum.
The various dial decorations include seemingly everything from photography, cartoons, logos, sayings, abstract art, miniature cymbals (really), and mechanical exhibitions of skeleton movements and tourbillons.
One long-standing theme for the decorations has been the skull in numerous forms, and the Bubble has become a bit of a go-to for alternative aesthetics (in other words goth, punk, and rocker types).
The Bubble X-Ray continues this theme with its dial, a massive, layered X-ray image of the human skull smiling out at you from under the bulbous sapphire dome. The skull is larger than the dial, extending to the top and past the bottom, completely dominating the watch and making it clear that this is piece meant to grab attention.
The hands are the typical Bubble style but lack the infilled Super-LumiNova, making them skeletonized, a perfectly appropriate choice for a watch highlighting an x-ray of a skeleton.
Normally, lacking lume on the hands would make the watch harder to read in the dark, but this is where the Bubble X-Ray plays its trump card: the layered x-ray of the skeleton is luminescent and glows in the dark, lighting up the dial with the eerie image. That glow also makes the skull feel like it’s floating in the dark, another touch of gothic inspiration for what otherwise would be a medically-inspired watch.
The case is the typical Bubble case with a large round crown for easy setting and an exhibition case back to see automatic Caliber CO 082 inside. But the purpose of most Bubble models is not the mechanics; it’s clearly the aesthetic.
Corum Bubble X-Ray: bold styling
The entire premise behind the Bubble watch goes back to the second owner of Corum, Severin Wunderman, who was inspired by an experimental diving watch from the 1960s that featured a massively domed crystal. He took the styling and added wildly creative dials, carving out a niche for the Bubble. And it took off.
What’s more, Wunderman has always had a fascination with life and death, especially Día de los Muertos, which resulted in a fondness for skulls.
The very first collection even contained a Bubble with a skull on the dial, making it a mainstay of the collection for all of its 21 years. Over that time the variety has been wide and creative, with Corum regularly engaging popular artists to create something different or unexpected. Even though this new rendition features the ever-popular skull, the Bubble X-Ray goes in a different direction once again.
Using layers of sapphire crystal to create a three-dimensional skull, the Bubble X-Ray creates a visual experience that feels more like a physical x-ray if you had x-ray vision. Combining it with Super-LumiNova to make a glowing x-ray adds another dimension, even though they usually aren’t seen that way.
X-rays are higher on the spectrum than ultraviolet so they are invisible; we usually see the results of them on photographic film where shades of white and grey show what has been x-rayed.
All about the experience
White and grey constitute the colors of the skull on the Bubble X-Ray when it isn’t glowing in the dark, yet somehow the luminescent version feels even more accurate, or at least more energetic. But I think that is kind of the point: it’s supposed to be wild, and a glow-in-the-dark x-ray skull is anything but boring.
The skeletonized hands allow a clearer view of the multilayer skull, and the hour and minute markers have been kept as minimal as possible near the edge so they don’t distract from the art of the dial.
Keeping distractions low continues on with the stainless steel case, which sports a satin black PVD coating. The strap is also black, a diamond-textured rubber that fades away. However, it does feature luminescent green stitching that glows with the dial for added effect. This makes sense as the goal of the Bubble X-Ray is obviously to present an experience to the wearer, something all Bubble models share.
The Bubble X-Ray is definitely a statement piece, too, with its 47 millimeter diameter and hefty 18.5 millimeter height thanks to that massive domed sapphire crystal. Nobody buys a Corum Bubble to hide underneath a jacket sleeve anyway, so that size is a boon for dial designers looking to maximize the aesthetic.
Large expanses make for some epic displays, which the Bubble X-Ray has in spades. I am excited to see if Corum uses the multilayer sapphire crystal dial in thee future to create more three-dimensional x-ray designs or perhaps plays with the idea of holographic-style dials. With the Bubble, nothing is off limits.
And now it’s time to break this one down!
- Wowza Factor * 8.8 An x-ray watch is not your normal dial design, and this glowing skull definitely will make you say wow!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 88» 862.985m/s2 When the nights are long and dark you sometimes think of your mortality, but looking at a skull x-ray on your wrist is fun enough to lighten the mood!
- M.G.R. * 45 A fairly standard automatic movement powers the Bubble X-Ray and is a solid choice for something so focused on visual experience!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A The lack of any additional functions is obvious for a watch like this, and I’m not sad in any way. Though you can go without any Gotta-HAVE-That cream while still enjoying the show!
- Ouch Outline * 8.8 A sunburn from hiking in the desert in August! I recently took vacation time to hike in some national parks in Arizona and New Mexico, but went in the middle of August during clear skies and 100-degree days and clearly did not apply adequate sunscreen often enough. Even though I had some sore patches of skin I’d gladly do it again to get the Bubble X-Ray on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * What a skeleton! It’s hard to not be impressed by something like a three-dimensional x-ray skull, so naturally it doesn’t take long before you are calling up the caterer!
- Awesome Total * 798 Start with the number of pieces in the limited edition (88) and multiply by the water resistance in atmospheres (10), then subtract the caliber number (082) for an incredibly exposed awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.corum-watches.com/collections/bubble/47/l082/04270
Quick Facts Corum Bubble X-Ray
Case: 47 x 18.5 mm, black PVD-coated stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber CO 082 (Soprod A10 base), 42-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 88 pieces
Price: approximately $4,000