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Corum Swiss Automatic Mechanical Vintage Watches Complete Guide-Review

Updated on January 6, 2015

Corum Swiss Watches

Corum joined the prestigious club of high-end luxury Swiss watchmakers in 1955. Its history, though short, presents a fascinating journey of a brand that started as an all-round luxury fashion watch company, only later to make a turn towards high-end horology: a complete transformation of design philosophy and principles.

The various watch collections embody this shift, demonstrating how Corum changed early zest for fashion to a more weighed, deliberate interest in pure horology and micro-engineering.

Eventually, unique movement architecture substituted decorative case and bezel designs, and elaboration in the field of automatic complications pushed out playful ornamentation.Today, fashion models no longer in production comprise a lively vintage market, while several active collections represent working philosophy.

Corum Manufacture
Corum Manufacture

Design

Despite being a relatively new brand, Corum succeeded in forging their original style – a mark of both industry longevity and ambition. In fact, the company's designers managed to do this twice: first in creating fashion oriented jewelry pieces characteristic of the brand's early output, and second in composing the unmistakable, super-calm, imperious look of the later period, the one which dominates today's collections.

Respectively, Bubble, Trapeze, Sugar Cube, and other ladies watches display a light, playful attitude: visual aesthetics play a primary role, sometime flirting with high-fashion avant-guard. On the other hand, contemporary collections such as Admiral's Cup, Golden Bridge, Romulus, and Coin veer to monumental seriousness.

These watches exhibit polygonal, multi-tiered complexity, revelling in the sophistication of almost every aspect of watch design: dial organization and ornamentation (indexes, subdials, numerals), bezel and case relationship (architecture, marking), bracelet interaction with the other parts, and so on.

Movements

As of 2009, Corum have manufactured two in-house movements. This may not seem much, but for a new brand competing in a 300 year old industry it's an important step towards long-term stability : only a select few make their own automatic movements.

Considering the discussed shift towards horology, connoisseurs might rightfully expect more in-house movements to be produced in the future; Corum's strategy of boasting their mechanical achievements in unusual skeleton and openworked dials portend well in that direction.

Currently available complications include tourbillon, split-seconds chronograph, various tide related indicators (no other watch brand, to my knowledge, has this complication), date, dual time, annual and perpetual calendar, and others.

Collections

Corum watches span a range of styles and purposes, all touched by luxury or avant-guard in one way or another. Most of these collections left an indelible mark on the industry, and fascinate aficionados of high fashion and horology alike. Click on the links to navigate to dedicated reviews.

  • Bubble Men's and Bubble Ladies' must be the brand's most popular fashion collections that are no longer in production (effectively making them vintage watches). The striking, literally bubbly design results in a fun-infused and pulsating timer. Both bubble lines use a lot of color, while women's pieces habitually incorporate diamonds; some of the faces display various marine cartoon-like motifs.

  • Pyramid and Trapeze Ladies watches comprise Corum's linear and angular architecture inspired creations: both lines echo pyramids by employing bold, sweeping rectangular or trapezoid shapes; liberal use of diamonds and color add a touch of light fun, while strictly white or black models introduce restraint and minimalism.

  • Sugar Cube and Ovale Ladies collections continue to experiment with case geometry, offering miniature rectangular pieces (reminiscent of Jaeger LeCoultre Jewelry) in the former, and unusually elongated elliptical watches in the latter. Diamonds, colors, and prominent bezels determine the lines' character.

  • Admiral's Cup marks the ever important entrance into contemporary Corum design. It's a master collection that employs a range of complications, capping them with high-tech materials, and precious metals and stones. It's how they combine, however – creating a whole that is so much more than the sum of its parts – that distinguished this rugged, masculine sports line.

  • Romulus watches feature Corum trademark hour-marking system: the numbers were moved from the dials on to the bezels, contributing to an unusually spacious, calm look that oozes control and stability. Harmony plays an important part in this collection, which includes some of the most complicated calibers the brand offers.

  • Golden Bridge watches link between the brand's mechanical exploration (the skeletal “bridge”) and its luxurious jewelry splendor. Even hundreds of diamonds and gold of various colors can't distract from the unorthodox crown placement, the true highlight of this collection.

  • Coin watches make another inroad into untapped design territory: this collection has shocked, and continues to shock by its unprecedented, yet ingeniously simple dial solution. Instant classics, these pieces incorporate 20 and 10 dollar gold coins for the face.

  • Artisan pieces emulate Ulysse Nardin Specialities and Vacheron Constantin Les Masques: all models feature trademark bridge movement inside the case, and carry a thematic picture on the dial: a hand painted tableau of Adam and Eve, Mucha's iconic images, and a tribute to Napoleon's armies.

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