CORUM is a Swiss luxury watch brand established in 1955 by René Bannwart. As an exclusive brand, CORUM offers ranges of exceptional quality watches that are innovative, with a distinctive design and dedicated complications. Since 2005, the brand has grown at a rapid pace. Founded on four pillars (The Admiral’s Cup – The Romvlvs – The Golden Bridge – The Artisans), the collection includes models equipped with mechanical movements whose prices range from 5’000 US$ to 1 million US$ integrating precious metals and technical complexity.
HISTORY OF CORUM
With his strong entrepreneurial spirit and watchmaking experience acquired from the most prestigious watch manufacturers, René Bannwart founded his own brand and created CORUM in 1955 with his uncle Gaston Ries.
Particularly fascinated by the word “quorum” which means the minimum number of persons present and necessary to hold discussions and make valid decisions, however René Bannwart simplified the spelling to CORUM.
|Corum Building, La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1955|
Right from the time of its creation in 1955 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, CORUM displayed a determination to position itself at the forefront of the Swiss watch industry. The emblem, a key pointing skywards, is a symbol of the mystery to be fathomed, the enigma to be resolved, of new territories to be explored, and of innovation. It also alludes to the inventiveness, tenacity and bold spirit required in order to attain the total mastery of time.
In 1956 the first CORUM watches appeared on the market and the brand launched a veritable cascade of new ideas with great success. It was even recognized by its peers as one of the most creative in the industry. In 1966 Jean-René Bannwart, the son of the founding father, joined the watchmaking company. He created the models which became Corum’s trademark, in particular the Admiral’s Cup model.
|CORUM Admiral’s Cup, 1960|
In 1957, launch of the Golden Tube model, a tube of gold in which the movement is inserted. This creation is the basis for the famous Golden Bridge model (1980), the first baguette movement. In 1958, the Chinese Hat watch sparked public curiosity with its bezel evoking the famous pyramid-shaped head covering worn by the people of China.
|CORUM Chinese Hat Watch, 1958|
In 1960, the first interpretation of the Admiral’s Cup model with a square case was developed. This was one of the first ever water-resistant square watches. In 1964, the Coin Watch without a back cover was created with an ultra-flat movement that is set in an authentic gold coin, a $20 Double Eagle Coin. This model was worn by numerous U.S. Presidents and prominent personalities.
|CORUM Coin Watch, 1964|
In 1965 came the first appearance of large-sized watches with the Buckingham model, which asserted itself through its oversized proportions that were extremely innovative at the time.
|CORUM BuckinghamWatch, 1965|
In 1966, the Romvlvs watch was unveiled, featuring the hour numerals engraved not on the dial, but on the bezel.
|CORUM Romvlvs watch, 1966|
In 1970, CORUM introduced the Feather watch composed of genuine bird feathers. This artistic and technical feat called for great expertise.
|CORUM Feather Watch, 1970|
In 1976, the Rolls-Royce watch once again underscored the avant-garde nature of the brand, since it represented the first ever partnership of this kind with a prestigious automobile manufacturer.
|CORUM Rolls-Royce Watch, 1976|
In 1980, the Golden Bridge with its delicately hand-engraved baguette movement revealed behind the perfectly transparent sapphire crystal case embodied the pinnacle of technical and horological mastery.
|CORUM Golden Bridge, 1980|
In 1983, the famous Admiral’s Cup design was reinterpreted in a version with nautical pennants corresponding to the international maritime code and serving as hour-markers on a twelve-sided bezel.
|CORUM Admiral’s Cup 1983|
Introduced in 1986, the CORUM Meteorite model featured a dial cut from an authentic meteorite.
|CORUM Météorite Mars Watch, 1986|
In 1991, the Admiral’s Cup adventure continued with the victory of the CORUM team in the legendary sailing race after which the line is named. In 1993, the Admiral’s Cup Tides watch was launched.
|CORUM Admiral’s Cup Tides Watch, 1993|
Fitted with an exclusive CORUM movement CO277, it indicates vital information such as the lunar cycle and the time of the tides, as well as the strength of the tide, an estimation of water levels and the strength of the currents. In 1997, CORUM filed a patent for a new invention showcased in the Tabogan watch, equipped with an ingenious mechanism allowing the watch case to be positioned upright, and thus transforming the wristwatch into a table clock.
|CORUM Tabogan Watch, 1997|
In 2000 the Bubble watch was introduced. Fitted with an 11mm thick sapphire crystal, it created a magnifying-glass effect which became the model’s signature feature.
|CORUM Bubble Watch, 2000|
With the Trapèze watch in 2001, Corum created a new style evoking subtle grace. Its name evocative of its shape and large size gave a truly timeless design.
|CORUM Trapèze Watch, 2001|
In 2005, the Classical Vanitas marked the world premiere of marquetry-work as applied to watch dials. The stone and marble parts were meticulously cut to fit together like a mosaic.
|CORUM Classical Vanitas, 2005|
In 2005, in celebration of Corum’s 50th Anniversary, the Golden Bridge was reinterpreted in a contemporary vein, imbuing the original 1980s model with the spirit of the 21st century.
|CORUM Golden Bridge, 2005|
2006 heralded the renewal of the Admiral’s Cup model. While offering a more contemporary, boldly designed collection, CORUM nonetheless maintained its essential aesthetic characteristics: the famous twelve-sided case and the nautical pennants.
|CORUM AdmiralsCup Chronograph 44, 2006|
In 2007, the legendary Romvlvs was reborn with an elegant and contemporary spirit, interpreting the classical codes of the brand. Its new design perpetuates the distinctive nature of its Roman numerals engraved on the bezel and is distinguished both by its double-curving case creating an elliptical effect on the bezel, and by its domed sapphire crystal. The wave-profile of the bezel is engraved around the entire circumference with a perfectly polished longitudinal stripe.
In 2008, thanks to a repositioning driven by a determination to achieve consistency, along with the launch of several emblematic models, all confirming its remarkable expertise in the field of Haute Horlogerie – most notably the Admiral’s Cup Tourbillon 48 and the Romvlvs Perpetual Calendar – CORUM experienced a remarkable year.
In 2009 once again revealed CORUM’s apparently inexhaustible creativity. CORUM wrote a major new chapter in its history by presenting its second in-house movement. Designed, developed and assembled within the brand’s workshops, the Ti-Bridge is the first model to house the new CO 007 caliber.
In 2010, CORUM celebrated its 55th anniversary, a half century of the Admiral’s Cup and 30 years of the Golden Bridge. Legitimacy and pioneering spirit are rewarded.
In 2011, CORUM launched its exceptional baguette movement in an automatic version – with linear winding. It heralds a new era in the legend of this unique movement.
|CORUM HQ Building|
CORUM – at the dawn of the 21st century
In 2000, René Bannwart was honored with the GAÏA distinction of the International Museum of Horology in the category of Craftsmanship & Design. A symbolic recognition awarded to him for his contribution to watchmaking history and culture, which also echoes the spirit of CORUM.
In January 2000, the arrival of a new owner and President – Severin Wunderman, an internationally renowned icon of the watchmaking industry – gave CORUM a whole new boost. Displaying his characteristic creativity and ingenuity, he revitalized the company. At Severin Wunderman’s request, Antonio Calce joined CORUM in 2005. Jointly they established a strategy to conquer new horizons, while remaining faithful to the pioneering and independent spirit on which the brand has built its success.
In 2007 Antonio Calce was promoted to serve as CEO. As an experienced strategist he was entrusted with the mission of repositioning the brand in the high end horology segment. On June 25th 2008, Severin Wunderman passed away at the age of 69. A man of arts and culture with a strong sense of philanthropy, he left his mark on the watchmaking industry with his daring creations. His memory is still honored by his family and his mission continues at CORUM.
On August 18th 2008, CORUM appointed Serge Weinberg – a personal friend and financial advisor of Severin Wunderman – as Chairman of the Board. As founder of an investment firm called Weinberg Capital Partners, active in mergers and acquisitions operations as well as real estate investments, he brings his vast experience in the luxury sector to the company.
In October 2009, CORUM signed the takeover of its distribution agent in the North American and Caribbean markets, CORUM USA LLC, and Antonio Calce is appointed as President of the new American subsidiary. At the end of this same year, CORUM inaugurated its first boutique in Hong-Kong. Two other boutiques – in Geneva and in Shanghai – opened their doors in 2010. These boutique openings are completed by a distribution strategy implemented by Antonio Calce, which shows the brand’s determination towards a more selective and qualitative retail network, supported by strong subsidiaries and agents structures.
In January 2010, at the dawn of CORUM’s jubilee year, its founding father René Bannwart passed away in his 95th year. René Bannwart was known for his humanistic and aesthetic values. His strong creativity has been illustrated for CORUM by many outstanding creations which have strongly anchored the DNA of the brand.
Today, CORUM continues to be headed by brand CEO Antonio Calce. A product-oriented and unifying figure, Antonio Calce is pursuing the long-term implementation of the product strategy and integration of the watchmaking professions initiated in 2005. His entrepreneurial vision has led him to focus on two priorities, complementary to the product development; the distribution and the communication strategy. The subsidiaries and agents have been reinforced with new organizational structures and management, while the communication plans have been professionalized.
In 2013, China Haidian Holdings Limited acquired major shareholding in CORUM. China Haidian Holdings Limited (“China Haidian”) (Stock code: 256) is a publicly listed company in Hong Kong Stock Exchange since 1991 which is controlled by Mr. Hon and his family. The group’s primary activity is the manufacture of proprietary watch brands and the distribution of both proprietary and selected Swiss luxury watch brands in China and throughout Asia.
The Group owns “EBOHR” and “ROSSINI” watch brands, both of which are in the top 4 domestic watch brands in China. The Group also owns the Swiss brand Eterna.
In the mid of 2013, the company signed a Partnership with Mr. Vincent Calabrese, a well known Swiss watch maker who initiated the brand’s iconic Golden Bridge movement. In the same year CORUM opened their new boutique at Aventura Mall in Miami.
The Brand’s 4 Pillars
Over the past five years, CORUM has undergone a complete transformation that has enabled it to achieve a perfect match between the products and the demands for quality and creativity that are the very foundations of its credibility. Its firmly upscale move is a logical result of the brand’s efforts to recapture its historical standing while significantly reinforcing its horological substance. CORUM’s substantial investments have led to the integration of watchmaking profession, the development of production tools, the enhancement of human resources and the promotion of staff training. The result is a brand once again entirely in tune with its genetic heritage. The brand’s development strategy is now set on the distribution and communication.
Positioned as an exclusive brand, CORUM offers high-quality watch collections featuring an innovative and distinctive design, and equipped with sophisticated mechanical movements. Its 150 current models, spread between four key pillars – Admiral’s Cup, Corum Bridges, Romvlvs, and Artisans – enjoy a legitimacy rooted in the brand history. The full set of collections comprises models at prices ranging from 5,000 to 1 million Swiss francs and giving pride of place to precious metals and horological complications.
In 1960, the first interpretation of the Admiral’s Cup model paved the way for CORUM’s success. This model remains thanks to its history, which is inextricably bound up with major sailing competitions and prestigious sailors, as well as for its inimitable esthetic based on a twelve-sided case, a dial set off by twelve nautical pennants, and the Admiral’s Cup trophy engraved on the caseback. These are its distinctive and unmistakable identifying characteristics.
The “Admiral’s Cup” is currently worn and represented by Ben Ainslie, one of the greatest living sailors and four-time Olympic medal winner who has already earned an impressive number of records and distinctions, and by Loïck Peyron, regarded as one of the best sailors both on multihull and monohull boats with a breathtaking list of accomplishments to his credit, including 43 transatlantic crossings and two round-the-world races. In 2010 the Admiral’s Cup collection commemorated its half century of creation.
|Corum Admiral’s Cup Minute Repeater Tourbillon 45 watch, 2010|
In 2010, to celebrate the anniversary CORUM paid tribute to ocean enthusiasts and introduced the first divers watch – Admiral’s Cup Deep Hull 48 – water-resistant to 1000 meters, to the collection.
In 2011 and for the first time, the collection is structured into three distinct segments: Extreme, characterized by sturdy designs encompassing ultimate sports functions – Competition, with a more sporting chic design offering a range of chronograph complications – Heritage, with more elegant and classical models featuring cases with softer lines and more classic complications. Each segment respects the identity codes of the Admiral’s Cup while speaking to another universe.
The brand’s flagship complication model, the Golden Bridge was introduced in 1980 and remains a benchmark with its unique baguette movement. Moreover, it is also regarded as an avant-garde watch thanks to its movement placed in the centre of a transparent sapphire crystal case.
In 2009, Corum raised the curtain on its new and exclusive caliber designed, developed and assembled in-house. The CO 007 movement is clearly inspired by the legendary Golden Bridge caliber while giving a whole new twist to the original concept; although the shape is immediately recognizable, the dimensions, the components and the technical characteristics are all completely different.
|CORUM Golden Bridge Tourbillon, 2010|
In 2010, CORUM celebrated the 30th anniversary of its iconic baguette movement of the Golden Bridge and enhanced the movement with an outstanding complication; the world’s smallest tourbillon with silicon escapement.
The Corum Bridges pillar experiences a substantial evolution in 2011 with the presentation of an exclusive new creation: the Golden Bridge Automatic with the first linear-winding automatic movement.
Introduced in 1966, the Romvlvs model makes reference to watchmaking art in its purest form, and has made its mark on watchmaking history. This model is in fact the first watch to have the hours engraved on the bezel, and a case that is easily recognizable by its double-curving case.
|CORUM Romvlvs Perpetual Calendar, 2008|
The collection was enriched in 2008 by two major complications: a Perpetual Calendar and a Retrograde Annual Calendar. In 2010, CORUM pushed technical boundaries to their limits by offering a Romvlvs Billionaire housing a tourbillon movement with plate and bridges made of sapphire crystal demonstrating the brand’s remarkable talents.
The Artisans collection – the fourth brand pillar – embodies a blend of creativity and high art since 1955. It is composed of models enhanced with enameled dials, painted miniatures and featuring variations on gem-setting and engraving techniques. Each year, new models exploring new themes and motifs are added to the collection.
|CORUM Artisans Buckingham Pink Flamingo|
RENÉ BANNWART (1915 – 2010): Founder of CORUM
“The prestigious key, which marks the Corum creations, opens the doors of time and is the best symbol of the work always more perfect and more complete. »René Bannwart
Born March 16, 1915 in Zurich, René Bannwart spent his childhood in Basel before joining Geneva to study at the Business School where he developed his passion for business.
With a watchmaking experience acquired from the most prestigious watch manufacturers, René Bannwart began his professional adventure at Patek Philippe in 1933 before joining Omega in 1940 where he established the first creative department and launched watch models which still today remain the talking pieces of the Brand. At Omega, he strengthened his expertise in watchmaking during 15 years. With a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a will to create his own watches, he founded Corum in 1955 with his uncle Gaston Ries. In 1958, he signed his first success with the model “Sans Heures” where time was only indicated by the hands on the dial. In 1966, a new interpretation of this model is embodied with the model Romvlvs (today one of the 4 key pillar of Corum) whose hours in Roman numerals are engraved on the bezel.
René Bannwart known for his humanist and aesthetic values has been able to reach his ambition by creating a Company that shines today in the constellation of the Haute Horlogerie. He leaves behind him as much a beautiful human than a watchmaking tale. Passionate and generous, he earned the trust and deep respect of his colleagues, clients and employees by building lasting friendships and sincere relationships.
Loyal to the golden rule used in creation, he was known for his sense of detail and artistic qualities. The strong creativity instilled by René Bannwart to Corum has been expressed, throughout its history, by many outstanding creations.
In 1958, launch of the Golden Tube model, a tube of gold in which the movement is inserted. This creation is behind the famous Golden Bridge model (1980), the first baguette movement that symbolizes the technical and watchmaking mastery of Corum and now part of the CORUM BRIDGES pillar.
In 1960, the first interpretation of the “Admiral’s Cup” model with a square case was developed. This was the first ever water-resistant square watch! In 1983, the famous Admiral’s Cup was reinterpreted in its emblematic design version (twelve-sided bezel, 12 nautical pennants) helping it to become the leader.
In 1964, the “Coin Watch” without back cover was created with an ultra-flat movement that is set in an authentic gold coin, a $20 Double Eagle Coin. This model was worn by numerous U.S. Presidents and prominent civilians. The watchmaking history and the watch aficionados will also remember the feathers dial (1970), the Rolls-Royce model (1976) pioneering the partnerships with the prestigious car manufacturer Brands, as well as the meteorite dials (1986) and the Tabogan watch (1997) whose ingenious mechanism allowing the watch to be turned into a table clock which has been patented.
In 2010, Corum celebrated its 55th anniversary and celebrates the half century of the Admiral’s Cup collection whose iconic design has been created at the time by the son of Rene, Jean-René Bannwart; and 30 years of the Golden Bridge. The heritage which was founded in the heart and skill of one man, René Bannwart, has provided to the Brand deep and solid roots which has been revived by its current CEO Antonio Calce, who has taken back the fundamental strategy of the Brand since his arrival in 2005.
On January 13, 2010, René Bannwart passed away.
Severin Wunderman (1938 – 2007) – Owner of Montres Corum LLC from 2000 to 2007
Born in Brussels in 1938, Severin Wunderman left Belgium with his sister during the Second World War for the United States, where he settled in Los Angeles. He soon took advantage of the opportunities offered by this city and developed his exceptional business acumen.
In the late 1960s, Wunderman made his debut in the watchmaking world as a salesman for a small private label watch company. One day he had a chance encounter with Aldo Gucci and turned it into the opportunity of a lifetime. A very loyal friendship formed between the two men. Gucci Timepieces became a reality and the rest is history. Wunderman’s keen sense of style and uncanny ability to produce models that were always at the forefront of the market brought him one success after another. Over the years, his company created and sold millions of watches distributed through more than 4,000 retail outlets all over the world.
In 1997, the Gucci group bought back the license from Severin Wunderman who was now free to take up a new challenge. He began his search for a watch brand he could call his own. The Corum brand, founded in 1955, had enjoyed a reputation for innovative and unique styling as well as superior quality craftsmanship, but was losing ground at the time both in Switzerland and on the international market. However, its potential remained as great as ever and the creative energy which is so typical of the brand suited Severin Wunderman perfectly. He took up the challenge and became the new President of Corum in 2000.
Just three months after acquiring the company, Wunderman, with his incredible creative talent, introduced no less than twelve new models at the renowned Basel 2000 World Watch & Jewelry fair – a feat unheard of in the industry. Each year the breadth and depth of Corum`s creativity continued to expand. Developing stunning new designs as well as resurrecting and updating classics from the archives, Wunderman, along with son Michael who took over the role of President in 2004, has breathed new life into the brand – a “jewel which was waiting for the final polish”.
But the activities of the owner of Corum did not stop at his passion for the creation of new watches. Already in his youth, he had been attracted by art and culture and showed a special affinity with the works of Jean Cocteau. Over the years, his artistic sense was refined and he collected the works of great masters of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
As soon as his personal fortune allowed him, he turned his dream of creating a Cocteau Museum into reality in the shape of the Severin Wunderman Family Museum, situated in Orange County.
In parallel with his artistic activities, he also developed a philanthropic and humanitarian action to which he dedicates between 13 and 17% of his annual earnings. He created and financed several foundations: Change a life and Severin Wunderman Family; the first to assist people of merit who are facing moral or material distress, by donations or endowments, and the second to finance fundamental research into incurable illnesses. Then, with Steven Spielberg, he founded The Severin Wunderman Collection of Child Survivor Testimonies from the holocaust: The children speak to children.
Knowing the ties that linked Cocteau with Menton, he made an offer to its Deputy-Mayor: he was willing to make a donation to the City of over one thousand and two hundred Cocteau works owned by him, his purpose being to make better known and perpetuate the works of this great artist with whom he would like to associate his name in France, Cocteau’s home country.
This twofold commitment of Severin Wunderman to culture and philanthropy earned him the recognition of Cocteau’s country of origin. By decree of 31 December 2004, the President of the French Republic appointed him to the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor. The medal was presented to him on June 17, 2005 in Paris, in the salons of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, by the Minister, Mr. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres. The ceremony took place in the presence of a delegation from the Ministry, the authorities of the city of Menton, the Deputy Mayor and his assistant from the Department of Culture, the territorial director and numerous personalities, including the chief curator of the Museums of France and the director of the department of cultural development at the Centre Georges Pompidou.
Severin Wunderman’s immense Cocteau collection comprises more than 2000 works, distributed between the Severin Wunderman Family Museum in California, the future Musée Cocteau de Menton and his various private residences.
On 25th June 2008, Severin Wunderman died at the age of 69 at his vacation home in Nice resulting from a severe stroke. The owner of Corum since 2000, Severin revitalized and reestablished the Corum Brand with his creativity and ingenuity. Severin was a man of the Arts and Culture whose personality and charisma influenced his innovative designs which elevated him to an Icon in the watchmaking industry.