Brand Profile – Corum

Corum is unique among Swiss watchmakers and definitely does its own thing.

Corum is unique among Swiss watchmakers and definitely does its own thing. The brand was founded in 1955 by Gaston Ries and his nephew, René Bannwart in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, where it remains based today. The first watches were produced in 1956 and Corum soon found success with unconventional designs, starting with the Chinese Hat in 1958. It was inspired by the conical hat originating in East, South and Southeast Asia, comprised of straw or bamboo. The first smash hit came in 1964 with the Coin Watch, featuring a dial made from a gold $20 Double Eagle coin. It was a favorite of multiple US presidents and celebrities. Corum formed a first-of-its-kind partnership with Rolls-Royce in 1976, launching the avant-garde Rolls-Royce watch that replicated a front grill with the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. From the start, the company wasn’t interested in the conventional and maintains a somewhat rebellious and radical spirit today. 

Among the most famous collections is the Admiral’s Cup, designed after the renowned yachting regatta that debuted in 1958. The first Admiral’s Cup watch was released in 1960 with sizes starting at 35mm, but the brand is known today for oversized cases and contemporary models go up to 48mm. Many in the collection are chronographs, such as the Admiral's Cup Challenge Chronograph with blue dial (A753/04237). This watch has a unique dodecagon-shaped case (12 sides) at 44mm with nautical flag hour markers. The automatic movement is also a COSC-certified chronometer. A good example of a three-hand model is the Admiral's Cup PVD Coated Stainless Steel Automatic (A395/04006) with a very modern dial featuring green outlined nautical flags over a black dial. 

Admiral's Cup

Corum also became the official watch brand of the World Series of Poker in 2006, signing a six-year partnership with Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. Eye popping themed watches showcasing images of the game are among the brand’s most iconic. Special pieces were also made exclusively for champions and the top nine players at the final table of the $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold’em World Championship. 

The Bubble collection is perhaps Corum’s most recognizable with oversized cases and large, bulbous sapphire crystals over wild dials. Introduced in 2000 alongside new ownership by famed designer Severin Wunderman, Bubble watches range from (mini) 26mm to above 45mm and it’s the larger models that really define the series. A great example is the Corum Bubble 47 Titanium (L407/03573) that depicts the back of a revolver’s cylinder with one round loaded. Limited to 188 pieces, it shows a typical, edgy theme used in the series. Not all Bubble themes are so radical, however, with models like the Bubble Golf PVD Coated Stainless Steel (L082/03810) featuring a dial mimicking a golf ball and PVD coated case made to look like patinated bronze. 

Although the brand often leans toward the fun and unusual, it’s a major player in haute horology as well. The Golden Bridge collection stands out with a complex linear movement that appears to float within the case as it’s attached at only two points at 12 and 6 o’clock. The movement is surrounded by four sapphire crystal sides that provide an unfettered view. There have been many iterations with both round and rectangular cases. The Heritage Classical Billionaire Tourbillon has an airy skeletonized movement with a flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock. Many mounting points are on the front and back sapphire crystals, again creating a floating effect, and the case is saturated with countless diamonds and sapphires. A horological masterpiece and definition of opulence (and truly worthy of the “billionaires’ club”). The Artisan collection has strictly limited pieces with painstakingly decorated dials showing historic and exotic locations, wild animals and more. As the name suggests, only true artisans work on this line and the techniques involved are very time consuming. Much of this is a dying art with relatively few master craftsmen left that continue these traditional skills. 

In 2013, Corum was acquired by the China Haidian Holdings Limited group, which is now Citychamp Watch & Jewelry Group. The parent company also owns Swiss watchmaker, Eterna. Corum has never lost its identity in over six decades and continues to produce some of the most unique and eccentric luxury Swiss watches. Bold and unapologetic.  

Eccentric Luxury