Some people have good ideas. Others take those ideas and carry them further, pushing the limits of what is possible. That might well sum up the fate of the bronze watch. An archetypal marine material turned fashion phenomenon, this metal – an alloy, in fact – has the defining characteristic of changing when it comes into contact with corrosive elements, the most common of which are salt from sweat and sea water. The colour of bronze begins as a lustrous yellow, tinged with red depending on how much copper is present, but develops a patina along with the characteristic spots of verdigris.
Legions of timepieces made of “clean” bronze have recently been released, notably by Anonimo, Tudor and Panerai. The watch is delivered as new, and the patina builds up over time, creating a unique and personal object that reflects its wearer’s lifestyle. Most recently, Bell & Ross came up with the artfully distressed BR 01 SKULL Patina 1120, created in association with Chronopassion, which was aged to the extreme. At least, that’s what everyone thought.
Although just fifteen years has passed since that time, the landscape of the luxury watch industry has changed beyond recognition. The original Bubble was 44mm broad, which made it an outlier in these days. Along with that, the design was pretty unusual. Watch collectors weren’t so accustomed to risks as they are now, but still, the Vintage Corum Watches Ebay Replica Bubble found favour amongst a dedicated demographic. It’ll be intriguing to see how the re-release of this Corum Bubble is greeted by a consumer base that’s much savvier than it was at the turn of this century. The profile of this watch remains unusually towering, with one of those highest-domed crystals I’ve ever seen. The impact that has on the dial is impossible to dismiss. The glass distorts the dial giving it an unnatural sense of depth. That is appropriate concerning design fidelity, as it completely adheres to the usage of spheres all over the watch — most clearly about the rubber-ringed crown at 3 o’clock. Additionally, it manages to stay true to Wunderman’s unique vision, which was inspired by a 1960s dip watch that comprised a huge crystal to withstand the pressure of deep seated exploration. But is this view only an homage, or have Corum upgraded it considerably to appeal to a contemporary audience?
Could do better
Now, the torch has passed to Corum, which is hoping to provide the definitive last word on the subject with its Admiral AC-One 45 Chronograph Bronze. Following on from natural bronze and verdigris, this watch goes even further, sporting a brown patina akin to the final stage of corrosion of a watch that has spent decades, maybe even centuries, underwater, but was rescued just before the metal really started to disintegrate.
This result is achieved on a piece-by-piece basis. In this way, Corum preserves the uniqueness that is a feature of bronze timepieces. The procedure is undertaken by an external craftsman, who corrodes the material to the maximum extent, before stabilising it with an invisible coating, stopping the corrosion in its tracks. At this point, the case is also perfectly smooth, ensuring it is comfortable to wear.
Tick tock teak
Corum has chosen to complete the look with a teak dial. This wood is one of the signature features of the collection, which also has the traditional 12 pennants as indices, and the dodecagonal bezel. The choice of teak is anything but random – it is the wood traditionally used for yacht decking. Here, it is left in its natural ruddy chestnut hue, accentuated by Corum’s decision to select wood with a particularly prominent grain, which adds to the illusion of the watch being some kind of ancient relic. The painting on the dial is thus appropriately worn-looking (this is entirely intentional), and the subdials and markings are all charmingly irregular. The 12 pennant hour markers, however, are crisp and clear. Rather than distressing them to match the rest of the dial, the designers have chosen to ensure they remain eye-catchingly visible.
The Admiral AC-One 45 Chronograph is automatic, with a power reserve of 42 hours and a depth rating of 300 metres. The crystal and caseback of the bronze case are in anti-reflective sapphire, and the watch is fitted with a brown calfskin strap with triple-folding clasp.