Chronopassion & Corum – The new Coins
They are like one of those elusive sea monsters that are whispered about, and glimpsed very occasionally. Rumours float around for years, and they may come to something, or they may not. Laurent Picciotto’s resurrection of the Corum Coins is a bit like that. The result could be a wild success or a total flop.
“I started the conversation within Corum around two years ago,” he recalls. “There were changes in management, new plans and other priorities that got in the way, for Corum as a whole and for me. When Jérôme Biard arrived, we resumed the conversation. And our discussions have now concluded.”
Man to man
Jérôme Biard is Corum’s new CEO. He has come up through the ranks, having worked for Richemont, and he has extensive experience in international distribution. Not incidentally, he has known Laurent Picciotto for over a decade. His arrival at Corum in the summer of 2017 gave a focus to their relationship and their shared ideas, particularly given that the founder of Chronopassion had been instrumental behind the scenes in orchestrating the return of the Bubble, which has become a pillar of Corum’s identity once again.
One of the ideas that emerged was that of bringing the Coins collection into the 21st century. As matters stand, there are things that we know, and things that we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out. In the first category: yes, Chronopassion and Corum Watches Hong Kong have entered into a concrete collaboration to create a new Coins collection, which will be unveiled in Basel. The series will be made up exclusively of unique pieces. Why? Well, not for marketing reasons, given that their design has been entrusted to an external artist – a talented, disruptive, independent engraver.
The word is that there will be no more than thirty pieces per year. Chronopassion has apparently reserved half of them already for its Paris shop. Laurent Picciotto leaves us with a final hint: “We will be in the same price range as the historic Coins collections.” Which means we can expect the new collection to come in at around €20,000 apiece.
Speculation and fantasy
What we do not yet know is the identity of the artist concerned, and consequently the flavour of the new Coins. “You’d probably be correct in thinking that we won’t be starting out with a limited series dedicated to mimosas,” confides Laurent Picciotto, “Although I have nothing against mimosas per se…”
So we should be prepared for rock-inspired pieces, maybe with a touch of the gothic, skulls perhaps, and possibly some unusual materials, or coins from a specific era or in a specific style. It would be unwise to rule anything out. But we’ll know for sure in Basel, where Corum will unveil the collection’s introductory pieces at its booth. For now, confidence is not in short supply. Laurent Picciotto says he has some clients who “could snap up some or all of them straight away.” And that would be a great shame for the curious bystanders waiting for a glimpse of them in Basel. So you’d better not hang around. Be prepared to pay a visit to the Corum booth on the opening day, and you might just catch a rare sighting.
Exploding in the head of the late Severin Wunderman, the Corum Bubble watches defied expectations upon launch. The profile of this watch is still remarkably towering, with one of those highest-domed crystals I have ever seen. The effect that has on the dial is impossible to dismiss. The glass distorts the dial giving it an unnatural sense of thickness. This is appropriate in terms of design fidelity, as it completely adheres to the use of spheres throughout the watch — most clearly about the rubber-ringed crown at 3 o’clock. Additionally, it manages to remain true to Wunderman’s unique vision, which has been motivated by a 1960s dive watch that featured a huge crystal to withstand the pressure of deep-sea exploration. But is this watch only an homage, or possess Corum upgraded it significantly to appeal to a contemporary audience?The first major change is the diameter: The brand new releases all quantify 47mm wide and an impressive 18.8mm top. Smartly, however, the lugs are short and curved to enable a close fit to the wrist. Of the 18.8mm of elevation, 8mm of that is down to the sapphire crystal alone. This is apparently no mean accomplishment: getting a flawless finish on a Sapphire part of this depth, curvature, and necessary consistency is real obstacle. Corum accomplishes this unusual effect by beginning with a block of crystal and squeezing it into a bubble-like contour, before polishing to absolute clarity.To get the most out of this feature, the designers of this Corum Bubble watches, chose to match the timepieces using “Op-art” (optical-art) dials. These smart patterns provide the feeling of motion, as well as shadow and depth. Although flat, the dials have a level of presence. Both watches utilise Super-LumiNova on the palms. The Op-art dials are 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 from the watch, it’s a lot easier to understand why this crazy contraption has numerous lovers all over the world. Both watches are fitted with rubber straps topped with leather, with a buckle matching their personal case finishes. The straps start out at 24mm between the lugs and taper to 20mm at the buckle.