Corum (Est. 1955 – ) The Swiss watchmaking firm Corum is officially known as Montres Corum Sàrl and based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Canton of Neuchâtel. The town is located in the Jura Mountains a few miles from the French border. The town, founded in 1656, owes its growth and renown to watchmaking.
It is also a renowned center of Art Nouveau and since 2009 has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its history as a locale for the watchmaking industry. Today, it is home to some of the most famous watchmaking manufacturers.
The House of Corum was founded by René Bannwart who created the brand in 1955 with his uncle, Gaston Ries. The name, Corum, was inspired by the word, ‘quorum’ which means the minimum number of people needed to validate a decision. To make the name easier to spell and remember, Bannwart spelled it phonetically.
The brand’s emblem is a key pointing skyward, symbolizing a mystery to break through, solving a riddle, new lands to explore, and innovation. It also is reminiscent of the qualities that make great watches: ingenuity, perseverance and the ability to take full control of time. In 1966, Jean-René Bannwart, René’s son, joined the watch company. He and his relatives created models that earned Corum’s reputation for iconic collections with powerful modern touches that also achieve singular innovations and technical breakthroughs.
For over sixty years, Corum has made high-quality and high-priced watches, many of which are limited editions. The House’s first watch, produced in 1958, is known as the Chinese Hat Watch that has a bezel evoking the famous pyramid shaped head covering worn by the Chinese.
Corum’s benchmark watch series is the Admiral’s Cup first introduced in 1960 that was one of the first water-resistant square watches. It has had many incarnations and re-designs including one design in 1983 with nautical pennants marking the hours.
Corum’s fame came early on when, in 1964, the company introduced a watch set in a $20 Double Eagle coin by using an ultra-thin movement. It was an instant best-seller and has been worn by US Presidents and many others who want to display their status on their wrist. Corum is also known for its “World Premiers.” Each year, it produces a controlled number of limited edition pieces.
Among these are the Romvlvs (1966) with numerals engraved on the bezel instead of dial and the Feather watch (1970) designed with genuine feathers. In 1976, the company partnered with Rolls-Royce to produce a namesake timepiece with an avant-garde design. The collaboration was the first serious partnership between a watch company and an automobile manufacturer.
The brand achieved its most famous breakthrough in 1980 when it introduced the Golden Bridge with its hand-engraved baguette movement. Designed by Vincent Calabrese, it has a movement with linear gear trains in a transparent exterior and isolated in space without any visible connection. Part of its appeal was the very slender design. It was so successful that it catapulted Corum into desired brand territory. To celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary in 2005, the company debuted a re-interpreted version of the iconic design.
Other notable models produced during Corum’s creative history include the Meteorite (1986) with a dial made from an authentic meteorite. In 1992, the Admiral’s Cup Tides model was premiered and featured the exclusive Corum movement CO 277 that provided information about the lunar month including the time of tides plus the tide’s strength, estimated water levels and indications of strong currents.
In 1997, Corum filed a patent for a new invention on its Tabogan watch equipped with a mechanism that allows the watch to be displayed vertically transforming it into a table clock.
January 2000 marked the arrival of a new owner and President, Severin Wunderman. Long recognized as a watchmaking pioneer with international fame, his creativity and ingenuity revitalized the House of Corum. The year 2000 saw the creation of the Bubble fitted with a thick, 11mm sapphire crystal that produced a magnifying effect. With the Trapeze watch created in 2001, Corum introduced a style that not only evokes its name but a shape and large size that is indicative of its timeless design.
In 2005, the Classical Vanitas is the first model in the world to use the technique of marquetry decoration as a dial. In this method, stone and marble parts are cut and assembled to form a mosaic.
In 2007, Corum made the World Series of Poker watches that complemented the World Series of Poker bracelet. This ushered Corum into the manufacture of bracelets soon thereafter.
The year 2009 again revealed the creativity of the company when Corum wrote a major new chapter in its history with the creation of its second in-house movement. The Ti-Bridge was the first model to house the new caliber CO 007, created, developed and assembled in the workshops of the brand.
At the request of Severin Wunderman, Antonio Calce joined the House in 2005. Together they forged a strategy to reach new horizons even as Corum remained true to the pioneering and independent spirit that made the brand a success. In 2007, Calce was promoted to CEO.
In June 2008, Severin Wunderman died at the age of 69. In August 2008, Corum appointed Serge Weinberg – a personal friend and financial advisor to Severin Wunderman – as chairman. In 2009, Corum created a new US subsidiary, CORUM USA LLC and Antonio Calce was appointed Chairman.
In January 2010, on the eve of the jubilee 55th year of the Corum brand, its founder René Bannwart, died in his 95th year. Corum continued to be led by Antonio Calce until it was sold in2013 to China Haidian Group who is also the owner of Eterna. The company is now owned by Hong Kong-based Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group Limited.
Corum is positioned as an exclusive brand that offers high-quality watch collections that are innovative and distinctive designs equipped with sophisticated mechanical movements. Its 150 current designs are spread among four key styles – Admiral’s Cup, Romvlvs, Corum Bridges and Artisans – enjoy the legitimacy and legacy rooted in the brand’s history.
The Artisans collection expresses the fusion between creativity and high art and is comprised of models with dials or enamel decorated with painted miniatures or that use crimping and etching techniques. The entire collection comprises models at prices that reflect the value of the precious metals and horological complications they contain.
Each year Corum adds new designs and models that explore new themes and motifs.