Since both coins and watches are often considered “collectibles,” it makes a certain amount of sense to combine the two and entice aficionados of both hobbies. Or so the train of thought went back in 1964 for La Chaux-de-Fonds-based maison Corum, when they produced their first Coin watch based on the American $20 Double Eagle. The model was a huge success for Corum, who have released numerous versions over the years including the 50th Anniversary Edition we covered previously. This year, a new trio of Corum Heritage Artisans Coin Watches have been announced, making use of American coins as well as a much rarer (for the brand) commemorative coin from Israel.
Corum were founded in 1955, making them relatively young by Swiss watchmaker standards. Their early success was defined by gold watches in the Art Nouveau style, such as the Chinese Hat and Admiral models. The first Coin watch combined the brand’s styling with an ultra-thin movement fitted within a sliced-in-two American gold coin, creating a unique dress watch with both exclusivity and patriotic appeal.
As a naturally patriotic symbol, Corum points out that several American presidents have worn Corum Heritage Artisans Coin Watches, including George Bush Sr, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, as well as artists such as Andy Warhol.
Three new versions of the Corum Heritage Artisans Coin Watch have been released this year. We’ll start by taking a look at the gold model, reference C082/03167, which features an American Liberty Head Double Eagle 20 dollar gold coin. This coin depicts a heraldic eagle with shield on the watch face and the head of the Statue of Liberty on the caseback.
This version bears the strongest resemblance to the original from 1964, but with the addition of an inner bezel in matching gold around the coin to increase the dial diameter to a more modern 43mm. This in turn provided space for the company branding to be etched near 12 o’clock without modifying the coin face itself, omitting the floating logo used on the other models in this year’s Corum Heritage Artisans Coin Watches lineup. The hour indices are extended from the outer bezel into the gold inner bezel, making this the most legible of the three models.
The gold model is also notable for using 3N or 22ct yellow gold, which is unusual for a watch case. This grade of gold is 91.6% pure, rather than the more common 18ct grade which uses 75% gold and 25% alloying metals. As a result, the case of this Corum Heritage Artisans Coin Watch is a richer hue of yellow than most other gold watches on the market, but it is also significantly softer and more prone to scratching. The crown is likewise made of 22ct gold and is set with a 0.17 carat diamond. Gem-setting in such a soft alloy could prove somewhat precarious, and I would avoid heavy use of the crown to avoid deforming the metal and potentially losing the diamond.
The hour and minute hands on this watch are thin, baton-shaped, and black lacquered, providing good legibility without obscuring the view of the coin face. The matching black alligator leather strap completes the attractive black-on-gold vintage aesthetic, and includes a more durable 18ct yellow gold tongue buckle. All three watches feature a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment and a thin 7.60mm case, making them well-suited for dress watch duties. The cases are rated to 1 ATM / 10m water-resistance, so wearers should take care to avoid any exposure to water beyond a light sprinkle.
The next model in the Corum Heritage Artisans Coin Watches lineup is the silver reference C082/03059, which features an American Silver Eagle one-dollar coin. The coin depicts a heraldic eagle with shield on the watch face and a walking Statue of Liberty on the caseback. The coin and watch case are made of 925 sterling silver, another unusual material in watchmaking due to silver’s tendency to tarnish over time. Perhaps the sapphire crystal over the dial will provide a sufficient seal to prevent the watch face from darkening, or at least reduce the rate of oxidization sufficiently to keep it legible between services.
In contrast to the gold model, the Silver Eagle version uses blue varnished hands and comes with a blue alligator strap, fitted with a stainless steel tongue buckle. Lacking the inner bezel of the gold model, this version features a floating Corum logo transferred under the sapphire crystal near 12 o’clock. A 0.17 carat round blue sapphire set into the crown complements the blued hands and strap and gives this version a more youthful look.
The final model in this collection is perhaps the most interesting, a Corum Coin Special Edition reference C082/03152, which uses a 925 silver coin from Israel. This coin was minted in 1973 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which was proclaimed by the first Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion on May 14, 1948. This coin depicts the Menorah symbol on the watch face (a seven-lamp candelabrum associated with the Temple of Jerusalem) and the the Scroll of Independence on the caseback. The Corum logo is transferred under the sapphire crystal at 9 o’clock on this model, and a 0.17 carat diamond is set within the crown. The watch features black varnished baton hands and a matching alligator strap for a more sober aesthetic.
Powering the three Corum Heritage Artisans Coin Watches is the CO 082 caliber, which is a Corum-decorated Soprod A10 movement. This is an automatic movement with bi-directional winding, hacking seconds, hand-winding capability, and an Incabloc shock protection system. It oscillates at a modern 28,800vph or 4Hz, features 21 rubies, and provides a 42-hour power reserve. This is a higher-end movement, designed as a replacement for the ETA 2892 and sharing many similarities with the Seiko 4L family of calibers. The Soprod A10 is also very slim at 3.6mm, which contributes to the overall thinness and wearability of these watches.
The Corum Heritage Artisans Coin Watches For 2017 offer three distinct styles for different clientele, from the luxurious Gold Double Eagle to the youthful Silver Eagle and the rather austere Israel Special Edition. These watches should appeal to collectors of precious coins, as well as those who wish to display patriotism in their respective nations. Lovers of high-purity gold and sterling silver also have much to admire here, as these materials are otherwise quite rare in the watch industry. The Gold US Coin model ref. C082/03167 is the most expensive of this trio, being offered for a price of $23,000. Both the silver models (ref C082/03059 and ref C082/03152) are available for the price of $13,800 each. corum.ch