Although the big-watch craze has officially died down, this doesn’t mean we’ll have to wave goodbye to bold-sized wristwatches. This is a good thing because there are spectacular dial and movement layouts, and case materials, that the industry has painstakingly developed, motivated by all the extra space the dominating trend of the 2000s and 2010s has given it to play with. The Corum Admiral 45 Openworked Automatic Luminescent Carbon has a long name, a massive case, and some not-so-secret tricks to fly the flag of the larger-than-life watch.
Corum has not pulled any punches with the Admiral 45 Openworked Automatic and has clearly stayed true to that approach when designing the Luminescent Carbon limited edition. Its centerpiece CO 297 openworked movement debuted in 2019, six years after the Admiral collection welcomed the 45mm-wide AC-One line. The complex-looking movement actually only displays the hours, minutes, the power reserve (which is 48 hours, coupled with a 4Hz operating frequency), and an odd three-minute display at 9 o’clock. In other words, in this iteration, it is a time-only movement that nevertheless looks as complicated as certain chronographs.
The omission of a traditional dial certainly plays its part in creating this effect — it is, however, the uniquely shaped, openworked bridges that connect certain hour markers with the various displays around the dial. Needless to say, the additional space in the 45mm case, as well as advanced modern manufacturing technologies, has allowed the Admiral 45 Openworked to sport this aesthetic — lacking space, and the ability to produce such delicate pieces in relatively higher volume are some of the main reasons the watch industry didn’t have many such “three-dimensional” creations before the 2000s.
Speaking of advancements in technology, forged carbon has come a long way since its debut over a decade ago. What first were potato-shaped blocks of carbon without well-defined angles and surfaces have evolved into beautifully milled, accurately crafted watch cases that the industry began to feel more comfortable experimenting with. Forged carbon — where small threads of carbon are pressurized, heated, and molded to shape — has given way to colored variations, ultimately resulting in the material seen here in the Corum Admiral 45 Openworked Automatic Luminescent Carbon: a case that has Super-LumiNova enclosures that, as one will expect from SLN, glow in the dark after exposure to a powerful light source.
Although not exclusive to Corum, the resulting material suits the Admiral 45 Openworked rather well, as the complex patterns of the dial and movement are echoed by the more subdued textures of the black and green case. There is also the less frequently used, albeit powerful combination of a delicate dial and a brutish case where the two mutually enhance each other’s effect. On the wrist, as is often the case with integrated lug designs, the Admiral 45 Openworked wears rather large and “long” in that it very clearly reserves a lot of real estate on the wrist — so you’ll either need a wider wrist or a large persona to wear this one in style. To its credit, the case is just 13.40mm-thick — thinner than many rather more basic self-winding chronographs — so at least it won’t be sitting high on the wrist. It certainly gets enough attention, as it is.
As often happens with movements engineered to put as much on show on the dial side as possible, the caseback of the Corum Admiral 45 Openworked Luminous Carbon is rather more simple. The 12 deep notches — to help secure or remove the caseback — and the full-size self-winding rotor certainly add their own, and make for a caseback view that is arguably more interesting than most solid casebacks.
The Corum Admiral 45 Openworked Luminous Carbon is a watch for those who want as unique an aesthetic as possible without sacrificing much at all in wearability and legibility. Light and comfortable, and fitted with one of the best AR-coated sapphire crystals on the market, the Admiral 45 is very much its own thing — and it certainly will have a few tricks to keep those 25 who get one entertained in the long run. The Corum Admiral 45 Openworked Luminous Carbon is priced at 38,500 CHF. You can learn more at the brand’s website.