I recently went to La Chaux-de-Fonds to visit Corum’s museum and workshops. Once a week the Neuchâtel tourist board organises a factory tour, an extremely rare event in the watch industry, and one that should be of interest to the general public as well as watch enthusiasts. Corum had agreed that at the end of the visit, I’d be able to take a watch home with me, to try out for a week. I was lucky enough to be able to take my pick, and the choice proved rather more difficult to make than I expected. I hesitated between the Miss Golden Bridge, one of the watchmaker’s most iconic timepieces, characterised by its linear baguette-shaped movement, and the famous Bubble with its distinctive steeply domed sapphire crystal. I finally settled on the Bubble, whose quirkiness appealed to me.
And as a consequence of the domed sapphire crystal, thickness is a whopping 18.55mm. Certainly, the Corum Bubble 47 Flying Tourbillon isn’t any small watch, and it is bound to draw a lot of attention. If wrist attendance is what you seek, this watch will probably deliver it in spades. Unfortunately, despite the watch’s beefy measurements, water resistance is 30 meters, so be wary of liquids.The Bubble watch is so known due to its high domed sapphire crystal, and it isn’t necessarily only a gimmick. Most watches have horizontal sapphire crystals with anti-reflective coating because they want to prevent distortion. For Corum’s Bubble view, the contrary is true since the distortion that’s due to its big domed sapphire crystal is the thing that makes the Corum Bubble unique. The big hollowed and vacant eyes together with the charcoal black dial along with also the warmth from domed crystal makes a gothic look that’s seldom seen in other watches. And to me, it’s personality, with much more menacing and attractive looks than, say, the skull designs utilized by HYT within their Skull Bad Boy watch or from Bell & Ross in their BR01 Burning Skull “Tattoo” watch (hands-on here).Though legibility may be somewhat affected by the distortions caused by the heavily compacted crystal, Corum addresses that by giving the Bubble 47 Flying Tourbillon big leaf-shaped hands painted with white Super-LumiNova.
When it first came out in 2000, the Bubble landed in the watchmaking landscape like a UFO; no one knew what to make of its unusual shape and extravagant size. In 2015, after a 10-year hiatus (2005–2015), the watch reappeared in the Corum Watches 48mm catalogue under a plethora of new references.
The version I chose, the Bubble Joker, was unveiled at Baselworld this year alongside five other models on the theme of games of chance. The curvaceous profile of the watch contributes to its generous measurements: a depth of 18.5 mm, including the domed glass, and a diameter of 47 mm. To be perfectly honest, I initially felt rather ambivalent about these… impressive proportions. And yet, once it was on, the watch didn’t look too big, or out of place on a woman’s wrist. My conclusion was that its soft, rounded lines made it less unwieldy than its vital statistics would suggest. In addition, the black PVD-treated stainless steel case and short curved lugs make it supremely comfortable to wear. The thick sapphire crystal acts as a magnifying glass, enlarging and deforming the appearance of the dial as you move your wrist, making it endlessly fascinating to look at throughout the day.
Under the dome, the Bubble is driven by an automatic movement. The brand name is engraved on the rotor, which is visible through the sapphire case back. And finally, the Swiss made movement provides the traditional 42-hour power reserve.