60 years ago, René Bannwart, a seasoned veteran in watchmaking who had clocked almost 15 years with Omega and then a few years before with Patek Philippe, decided to follow his calling to be an entrepreneur by setting up his own watch brand with his uncle Gaston Ries.
Even though he had to start from ground zero to build his brand, Bannwart’s determination to position his brand at the forefront of Swiss watchmaking earned him plenty of respect and admiration amongst his peers in an industry where originality and creativity are values that are treasured.
Here are 10 things to know about Corum:
1. In naming his newfound brand, Bannwart was particularly fascinated by the word ‘quorum’ which refers to the minimum number of persons present and necessary to hold discussions and make valid decisions. Simplifying its spelling to Corum for easier pronunciation, Bannwart’s brand made its new debut in 1955 in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
2. Corum’s emblem depicts a key pointing skywards—almost reaching to the heavens. This emblem alludes to the inventiveness, tenacity and bold spirit that its founders rely on in their pursuit of the mastery of time.
3. In 1957, Corum launched its first timepiece — the Golden Tube model. Its case consists of a tube of gold in which the movement is inserted. This unique shape enables the case of the watch to slide in the strap to fit comfortably and better on the wrist.
4. The success of the Golden Tube motivated Corum to experiment with another shape with its Chinese Hat watch the following year—this time on its bezel. Evoking the pyramid-shaped head covering worn by the people of the China, these pieces certainly drew a lot of curiosity from its clients and peers alike.
Corum Admiral's Cup Legend 42
5. It was not until 1960 that the brand would eventually start the foundation blocks of a timepiece that would become synonymous with Corum. The introduction of its inaugural Admiral’s Cup model—named after the international yachting regatta launched in 1957—would be the start of a collection that would define the brand’s reputation in the industry. This vintage edition had a square case and features a hand engraving of a sailboat together with the name ‘Admiral Cup’.
6. Upping the ante, the team at Corum then embarked on a creative concept—to create a watch from a gold coin. Thus, the Coin Watch was born. An ultra-thin movement was set inside an authentic $20 Double Eagle Coin and cased without a back cover. This timepiece was highly popular amongst the elite; numerous U.S Presidents and Nobel Prize laureates were wearers of the Coin Watch.
7. Other experimentations Corum embarked in throughout the years include creating its first large-sized watch (The Buckhingham) and engraving the hour numerals on its bezel instead of the dial (The Romvlvs).
8. Corum would also eventually introduce exquisite artisan and craftsmanship such as composing genuine bird feathers on the dial of a timepiece with its Feather watch.
Corum Golden Bridge Automatic
9. In the 1980, Corum managed to make the world sit up and take notice when it debuted its Golden Bridge timepiece. Featuring a delicately hand-engraved baguette movement revealed behind a transparent square-shaped sapphire crystal case, the astounding design that looked as if the movement was suspended in mid-air had industry players buzzing with excitement at what this niche brand has to offer next.
10. Returning to its roots, Corum reinterpreted its Admiral’s Cup design in 1983 to what it is known today for—a twelve-sided bezel with nautical pennants corresponding to an international maritime code that serve as hour markers.