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.
The first significant change is the diameter: The new releases quantify 47mm wide and an impressive 18.8mm high. Smartly, however, the lugs are short and curved to enable a snug fit to the wrist. Of the 18.8mm of height, 8mm of this is down to the sapphire crystal alone. This is apparently no mean accomplishment: obtaining a perfect finish on a Sapphire component of this depth, curvature, and essential consistency is real obstacle. Corum Zenit Watch Replica achieves this unusual effect by beginning with a block of crystal and squeezing it into a bubble-like shape, before polishing to complete clarity.To get the most out of the feature, the designers of the Corum Bubble watches, chose to fit the timepieces using “Op-art” (optical-art) dials. These smart patterns provide the feeling of movement, in addition to shadow and depth. Although level, the dials have a level of presence. There will be two Corum Bubble Op-Art watches available in a limited run of 350 pieces each: The Corum Bubble Drop watch has a brownish PVD-coated case plus a “ripple” effect dial; the Corum Bubble Sphere2 is coated in blue PVD and includes an “atom-inspired” pattern on the dial. Both watches utilise Super-LumiNova on the palms. The magnifying sapphire crystal has such an affect on the horizontal dials they seem to be aggressively domed themselves. With this arresting design leaping out of the watch, it is easier to understand this crazy contraption has numerous lovers all over the world. The two watches are fitted with rubber straps topped with leather, using a buckle matching their personal case finishes.
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 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.