The Corum adventure started in 1955, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. When the co-founders of the company, Simone Ries and Ren¨¦ Bannwart, joined Gaston Ries' watchmaking workshops, they knew that their new firm would benefit from this solid experience. Their alliance quickly established creativity and traditional craftsmanship as the order of the day.
Shortly thereafter, the company carved out a significant niche for itself, one that remains theirs alone to this day, with a classic model that quickly became an international best-seller: the $20 Liberty Eagle watch, which is made from a genuine U.S. $20 gold piece. In the Corum workshops, genuine mint-state Liberty eagle ($10) and double eagle ($20) coins are carefully cut in half, and in between the obverse and reverse of the coin, a high-quality movement is carefully inserted. Although other companies had made this style of watch since the 1920's, it was always as dress pocket watches. Corum's breakthrough was making it as a wristwatch.
It would be a bit misleading, however, to say that such a procedure can be accomplished like clockwork, for in reality, completing a Corum gold coin watch requires numerous steps and many painstaking hours of meticulous hand-finishing. In fact, machining the inside of the case, so that a movement can be fitted, can in and of itself take several hours of patient work.
Today, Corum can be justly proud of the fact that it has one of the richest collections in its field. Corum watches are immediately recognizable as such, and although a few of the movements are based on ebauches, these ebauches are often reworked by Corum's in-house watchmakers. A vast range of original designs, which with their infinite variety, define the Corum style - always in the forefront of time. From the "Golden Bridge" to the "Limelight", "Coin Watch", "Romulus" and "Admiral's Cup", Corum's products reveal a progressive attitude that is quite rare in today's watchmaking world. Rather than merely resting on its laurels, hoping to maintain the value of its tradition, at the cost of new ideas, Corum continually debuts new designs. Their attitude might best be summed up as follows: "To create is to construct, and to construct is to live".
This motto has become the keynote of Corum's policy. True creation cannot be compared to merely re-inventing old models that have proved reliable in the past. Time moves on, each second thrusts us onwards into the future, and it is a mistake to claim to have mastered time without having the courage to move forward constantly...to offer the wearer a watch that reflects his or her own vitality.
To mark its 40th anniversary Corum commissioned a new design center which is interesting for a number of reasons: it is tangible evidence of the company's policy of continuous innovation and it is the product of an architectural competition. The idea of this competition is once again a reflection of the pioneering spirit that was important to the company's founders in the early days.
Guided by its own enthusiasm, this young company has made great efforts to establish a reputation to match it ambition. The results speak for themselves: a very effective publicity campaign and successful sponsorship program demonstrate Corum's desire to be at the helm and not in the wake.
Since December of 1998, Corum has been jointly owned by the Bannwart family and the Al Fardan Group in Doha, Qatar. Following several months of negotiations, American businessman Severin Wunderman, a well-known figure in the watch industry, has personally acquired a majority interest in the company rather than through his company, Severin Montres, Ltd., "Because I want to be personally involved with the firm. I intend to maintain the current personnel in their positions, from management to production, and to capitalize on the rich traditions that have made the reputation of Corum throughout the world", he stated.
In the meantime, the master watchmakers at La-Chaux-de-Fonds continue to produce the magnificent timepieces - including such masterpieces as the Minute Repeater and Minute Repeater/Tourbillon - for which they are rightly famous. And they do so in an environment which rewards creativity and treasures craftsmanship - a perfect marriage of tradition and progressive thinking.
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