Corum may not be the first brand that pops into your head when searching for a quirky piece, but the release of the newest Corum Bubble watches warrants their name being on the list of brands to consider. The bold, totally cohesive approach to the design of this modern classic ensures that this iteration of the Corum Bubble will polarise opinion in the race for wrist space as it did upon its début. It’s certainly not for everyone, but there is more to this generation of bubbles than meets the eye. In this article, I’ll be taking a brief look at three new models, all of which are limited to just 350 pieces each. The Corum Bubble Sphere2, the Corum Bubble Drop, and the Corum Bubble Paiste have arrived.
The Corum Bubble watch was first released at Baselworld, way back in the year 2000. Although just fifteen years has passed since then, the landscape of the luxury watch industry has changed beyond recognition. The original Bubble was 44mm wide, which made it an outlier in those days. In addition to that, the design was pretty unusual. Watch collectors were not quite so accustomed to risks as they are today, but still, the Corum Bubble found favour amongst a dedicated demographic. It will be interesting to see how the re-release of the Corum Bubble is greeted by a consumer base that is far savvier than it was at the turn of the century. With nothing in the way of a complication to pique interest, the Corum Bubble watches lean heavily on design.
Exploding from the mind of the late Severin Wunderman, the Corum Bubble watches defied expectations upon release. The profile of the watch is still unusually towering, with one of the highest-domed crystals I have ever seen. The effect this has on the dial is impossible to ignore. The glass distorts the dial giving it an unnatural sense of depth. This is appropriate in terms of design fidelity, as it totally adheres to the use of spheres all over the watch – most obviously on the rubber-ringed crown at 3 o’clock. Additionally, it manages to stay true to Wunderman’s original vision, which was inspired by a 1960s dive watch that featured a massive crystal to withstand the pressure of deep-sea exploration. But is this watch just an homage, or have Corum updated it significantly to appeal to a modern audience?
The first major change is the diameter: The new releases all measure 47mm wide and an impressive 18.8mm high. Smartly, though, the lugs are short and curved to enable a close fit to the wrist. Of the 18.8mm of height, 8mm of that is down to the sapphire crystal alone. This is apparently no mean feat: obtaining a flawless finish on a Sapphire component of this thickness, curvature, and necessary consistency is real challenge. Corum achieves this unusual effect by starting out with a block of crystal and grinding it into a bubble-like shape, before polishing to absolute clarity.
To make the most of this feature, the designers of the Corum Bubble watches, decided to fit the timepieces with “Op-art” (optical-art) dials. These clever patterns give the sense of movement, as well as depth and shadow. Although flat, the dials have a degree of presence. There will be two Corum Bubble Op-Art watches available in a limited run of 350 pieces each: The Corum Bubble Drop watch has a brown PVD-coated case and a “ripple” effect dial; the Corum Bubble Sphere2 is coated in blue PVD and features an “atom-inspired” pattern on the dial. Both watches utilise Super-LumiNova on the hands. The Op-art dials have been inspired by the work of Victor Vasarely, a French artist of Hungarian descent and the founder the Op-art movement. The magnifying sapphire crystal has such an affect on the flat dials that they appear to be sharply domed themselves. With this arresting design leaping out of the watch, it’s easier to understand why this crazy contraption has so many lovers the world over. Both watches are fitted with rubber straps topped with leather, with a buckle matching their individual case finishes. The straps start out at 24mm between the lugs and taper to 20mm at the buckle.
There’s a great deal of discussion on the subject of watches as art. Although a watch needn’t be art to be of note, I’m a firm believer in their potential to straddle the boundaries of function, form, and philosophy where appropriate. In the case of the Corum Bubble watches, it seems to be a brand’s attempt at creating a pure objet d’art. It’s true, the Corum Bubble watches are not really like anything else the brand makes (or much like anything anyone makes, for that matter), but they are designed to be beautiful things, which is something they have in common with other timepieces bearing the Corum logo.
The dedication to the sphere in these pieces is staggeringly unwavering. In my opinion, this collection works simply because it is so unconcerned with anything but the faithful realisation of its own unique concept. To make the most of this re-release opportunity, Corum has partnered with famous cymbal manufacturer Paiste. Paiste have been enlisted to create a unique dial for the Corum Bubble Paiste special edition watch. The dial of the Corum Bubble Paiste is a tiny cymbal made by Paiste in exactly the same way they would make a full-size cymbal. I’m quietly confident it would work as intended were it removed from the housing and attached to a kit, but even if it’s just for show, it looks great.
It works particularly well when set behind the magnifying lens of the Corum Bubble watches. The mottled surface of the cymbal jumps out at you – an ever-present reminder of the crafts and skills that have gone into the creation of this particularly out-there wristwatch. The brass cymbal set within the PVD-coated black case is a great contrast. The Corum Bubble Paiste watch doesn’t boast the Super-LumiNova of the Op-art watches, but it does adhere to an attractively muted bi-colour scheme of black and brass as a result.
The Corum Bubble Op-art watches are powered by the CO082 automatic movement, which operates at 28,800vph, and has a power reserve of 42 hours. All watches are 47mm wide and 18.8mm tall. The Corum Bubble Paiste employs the CO110, which has the same 25.6mm measurement and technical specifications as the CO082. The cases are made of PVD-coated stainless steel, and are water resistant to 100 metres. The price of the Corum Bubble Sphere2 (L082/02849) and the Corum Bubble Drop (L082/02848) is $3,750, while the Corum Bubble Paiste watch (L110/02871) will retail at a price of $4,200. corum.ch