Watches: Corum Heritage Bubble Collection (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on April 28, 2015

Smaller, thinner, more classical or vintage-inspired, focused on the most traditional complications: most of this year’s introductions played on the safe side and, to be honest, after a few days of non-stop appointments, all the watches that were introduced to us kind of looked awfully the same! Call me a jaded watch journalist but the feeling of “déjà vu” was extremely acute during Baselworld and even though many novelties were exquisitely crafted, they lacked this “je-ne-sais-quoi” to get me truly excited…

This general mood quickly disappeared, however, during our visit to the Corum’s booth. Indeed, the La Chaux-de-Fonds Manufacture had the excellent idea of reviving the “Bubble” as part of their Heritage collection. It was back in the year 2000 that this extravagant watch made its debut. With a 44 mm case, it was considered an extremely oversized model at the time and the presence of a bulging sapphire crystal also made it utterly unconventional in terms of design. Daring as it was, the Bubble became an instant hit and, just like the extra-thin Coin Watch, has remained one of the brand’s landmark timepieces in the minds of many watch enthusiasts.

Fifteen years after its first introduction, the Bubble was back in Basel this year with an enlarged 47 mm case and a towering sapphire crystal making it 18.80 mm thick! Despite these impressive proportions, the presence of short and slightly curved lugs allows it to hug the wrist snugly and remain an absolute pleasure to wear.

The watch is presented in two limited editions of 350 pieces each: the gorgeous Bubble Bronze PVD that represents a direct nod to the original Bubble and surfs on the vintage trend as well as the more contemporaneous-looking Bubble Black PVD to please all the aficionados of the all-black style.

While retaining the graphic codes of the original, these amazing timepieces are not mere replicas of their predecessors: they are carefully revamped to look more innovative than ever! The spherical crown elegantly complements the smooth and rounded lines of the case and the rubber ring that makes it easy to grasp shows that no details were overlooked by the design team. The finely grained bronze or black leather strap and the pin buckle with the same PVD treatment as the case are also nice aesthetic details making me love every aspect of these timepieces.

Design-wise, though, the true feast is to be found on the dial. The fun shape of the hours and minutes hands of the original model has been maintained and the oversized “3”, “6”, “9” and “12” are still separated by huge dots to mark the remaining hours but the dial is now stamped with an “op art” motif. Optical Art uses static patterns to give the impression of movement or surprising, contradictory perspectives. This is exactly what the cube motif does here by magnifying the dial distortion already created by the bulging sapphire crystal. Although perfectly flat, the lacquered brass disc forming the dial appears so rounded it might pass for the top of a sphere!

In addition to these two limited editions, Corum also unveiled a third interpretation of the iconic Bubble: the Bubble Skeleton with a stainless steel case and a stunning grey alligator strap secured by a pin buckle. No dial has been placed on this non-limited version: just an uncluttered view of the self-winding CO 082 calibre that has been fully skeletonised and rhodium-coated. Even the hours and minutes hands haven been hollowed out to create this surprisingly modern take on the ancient art of watch skeletonising.

At CHF 3,500 the Bubble Bronze PVD and the Bubble Black PVD are also an absolute bargain. You will have to spend CHF 8,500 if you prefer the Bubble Skeleton. All three models should be available in May which is good news since they are truly fun watches for this summer: big congratulations to Corum for revamping this pillar of the brand’s watchmaking heritage.

For more information please visit the Corum web site.

For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures: