It is really about time Corum returned the most favorite Bubble watch – a timepiece collection that originally came out in the year 2000 and served a major contemporary function in the brand’s history. Finally, the Corum Bubble watch collection was discontinued, probably because Corum began to go a bit nuts with some silly limited edition models – which, looking back today, are pretty damn cool. For Baselworld 2015, the Corum Bubble is back, and that I finally have reason to pay attention to this newest again.I recall a few years back meeting with Corum in Baselworld and asking about the Bubble and if we might see one again. Someone sneered in my remarking that “we do not think that’s ideal for the brand anymore. We’ve moved past that.” “Ok…” is all I could react with, and we proceeded on to seeing more new variants of this Admirals Cup and Golden Bridge collection. I have always liked Corum, but over the last few decades, the enjoyable side of the brand appeared to be decreasing and being substituted with a great deal of ill-conceived high-end watches which did nothing to function the image of the brand. I believe that the previous time I wrote about Corum was back in January of 2014 when I had a less than optimistic view of this Corum Chronograph Tourbillon 47 Seafender. Afterwards, the brand chose to adhere double tourbillons to an Admiral’s Cup watch, and with their new ownership by China Haidian Holdings, I more or less assumed the brand’s appeal for watch enthusiasts was (at least briefly) over. So you can imagine my delighted surprise to hear that the Corum Bubble is back.Not only back, but back with decent rates. Actually, aside from some minor changes along with a case size that’s been improved to 47mm wide from 45mm wide, the 2015 Corum Bubble is quite similar to how it had been when Corum decided to stop it. Additionally, even though the case is bigger (and sounds really big) that the Corum Bubble wears smaller than it is with snub lugs along with a case that wraps around your wrist nicely. That said, I am pretty sure you can imagine that using a name such as the “Bubble,” this watch is thick. The sapphire crystal alone is 8mm thick and also the entire Corum Bubble watch is 18.8mm thick – but in a cool way.
My favorite family of watches in the current collection of Corum products is the Admirals’ Cup. Based on a now defunct boat race, the original Admiral’s Cup watch began in the 1980s and was the original yachting watch to wear on or off deck with your boating shoes and skipper cap. What has marked the Admiral’s Cup collection for so long is the 12-sided case and the use of colorful boat pennant flags on the hour markers. The latter has been mostly depreciated as the colors no longer exist on most new Admiral’s Cup watches. Many new Admiral’s Cup watches are still rather cool. However, with watches like the Chronograph Tourbillon 47 Seafender (that in its own way is interesting) I feel like the original theme and personality of the Admiral’s Cup collection has officially been thrown overboard.
We actually debuted the Seafender versions of the Admiral’s Cup watches when the Seafender 47 Tourbillon GMT was released in 2011. At 47mm wide, Corum decided it was fitting in the yacht watch collection to produce an aluminum-cased tourbillon. There was also an 18k red gold version. While these Seafender Tourbillons are admittedly interesting, I just see no business putting them inside of Admiral’s Cup-style cases. The above model with diamonds has one of the strangest personalities I’ve seen all year. It isn’t a matter of good or bad even though it isn’t for me, it is more a matter than it twists the DNA of the Admiral’s Cup collection so much that it has all but lost any meaning.
On paper, the Corum Admiral’s Cup Chronograph Tourbillon 47 Seafender sounds like a worthy idea. It has a bunch of interesting features and slick materials such that the sum of its parts could actually be highly provocative. Rather, we have a watch built like a Cadillac that mated with an Abrams tanks. These worlds of aggressive luxury boating and high-end complications just don’t meld together properly in my eyes.
Rather than mate a tourbillon with a GMT complication, this Seafender marries a tourbillon and a chronograph – again with a dial for the date. Powering the watch is the caliber CO 398 automatic that is pretty nice. if you recall what I said about the first Corum Seafender watch it was that the movement view looked better than the dial. The caliber CO 398 is rare, being an automatic for a tourbillon, and on top of that, it’s a tourbillon that operates at 4 Hz. The 60 minute chronograph is column-wheel based, and the dial features a nice window for the tourbillon (with a Corum key logo on it). This dial is much more composed than the Seafender GMT, but that version with the small round-cut diamonds actually in the sub dials just doesn’t do it for me. Let me ask you, while I do feel that there is a place for diamonds on an Admiral’s Cup case (especially baguette-cut ones)… are they really helping anyone by being on the dial like that?
The Chronograph Tourbillon 47 Seafender is an Admiral’s Cup in case alone. Nothing about the movement or presentation particularly feels like a logical extension of the Admiral’s Cup DNA. Something like this would make much more sense being in a Romulus collection. It doesn’t seem fair that the relative popularity of the Admiral’s Cup line has made it the breeding ground for almost every new concept Corum wants to release. If they want to examine their own past, Corum will find that they are a brand of excellent design creativity and aesthetic ingenuity. I truly want them to return the Admiral’s Cup to a place of some actual marine or yachting distinction and create new visual references for pieces it wants to include a tourbillon chronograph into.
I’ve never really been a fan of watches with aluminum cases because of their fragility. Corum Watches Rose Gold has claimed that the aluminum version of this watch has some type “ceramisation” as a coating to offer the dark gray tone. Is that supposed to mean there is some type of ceramic coating on the case to make it strong? I am not sure and that is not exactly what they say. Though I can say I am further not a huge fan of matte finished gray surfaces either for watch cases. In a nutshell I think Corum has really been missing a design opportunity with its high-complication piece like this. Save whatever personality the Admiral’s Cup collection has left and make it great collection again. When it comes to tourbillons or use of novel materials and manufacturing practices, perhaps designing a new collection is a better idea than coming up with names like “Seafender” that I am sure most will argue don’t have any business being paired with a tourbillon to begin with. Price for the Corum Admiral’s Cup Chronograph Tourbillon 47 Seafender watch is 50,900 Euros in the aluminum case, 78,500 Euros in the 18k red gold case, and 225,500 in the 18k red gold case with diamonds. corum.ch