BaselWorld 2010 was an opportunity for one of the youngest “traditional” brands at the exhibition to celebrate two significant achievements. In a hall full of brands that can claim centuries of heritage, Corum is a relative newcomer. Established only in 1955, the brand is best known for two collections: the iconic Admiral’s Cup series of watches inspired by nautical themes, and the Golden Bridges with patented baguette movements inside transparent sapphire crystal casings.
Speaking to Mint at Basel, Deepa Chatrath, regional managing director of Corum for South and South-east Asia, said that for both collections and the brand, 2010 is an important year. “Admiral’s Cup celebrates 50 years this year, and Golden Bridges 30. In addition, it is the 55th anniversary of Corum’s founding. It is an important year on many accounts,” she explained.
The celebrations come at a time when Corum has completed a five-year exercise of rediscovery and redirection. In 2005, Corum produced around 50,000 watches including models with quartz movements.
Icons: The Admiral’s Cup (left) and Golden Bridges are currently the most popular lines for Corum. Images courtesy Corum
“This will year will produce between 16,000 and 20,000 pieces. I would think that the number would be closer to 16,000,” Chatrath said. Not only was output pruned, but the brand has now decided to focus on four collections: Admiral’s Cup, Golden Bridges, Romulus and Artisans.
Chatrath elaborated: “These four collections represent the DNA of the brand. We’ve let go of everything else. Once again we are focusing on being a brand that stands for good craftsmanship, good materials and good value.”
At Basel this year, Corum unveiled three new timepieces, two Bridges and an Admiral’s Cup.
The Bridges, a signature Corum design, reduces the movement of a watch into a longitudinal baguette movement, rather than the traditional radial arrangement. This baguette movement is then placed horizontally or vertically with the hands above. What you have is a slim movement suspended in space. This year Corum added the complication of a tourbillon to the elegance of the baguette. With a silicium movement the tourbillon, available in both Golden and Ti-Bridge, is one of the world’s smallest. Also launched was a new Admiral’s Cup diver’s watch, the Deep Hull 48, that combines the classic 12-sided Admiral’s Cup design with a robust diver’s bezel. At 48mm in diameter, the watch is large, but the titanium body reduces weight. The watch is waterproof to 1,000m and has a special decompression valve to prevent helium accumulation while diving and surfacing.
Chatrath said that Corum avoided launching models for the sake of launching them. “Each new piece has to be new in a significant way. We don’t just change colours or make such cosmetic changes and launch watches. The tourbillon and the diver’s watch are substantial changes.”
India, which currently accounts for around 22% of regional sales for Corum, continues to be a market the brand is optimistic about. The challenge to growth, Chatrath clarified, was not so much the consumer as much as the supply chain. “The consumer is very evolved. This is not his watch. You grow into wearing a Corum after wearing other brands. What we are focusing on now is training and orienting media and retailers. They need to know what Corum means. Both in terms of our heritage and our recent redirection.”
Corum’s latest move to support local retailers has been a stocking point in the country. “Our retailers suffered severe delays importing the timepieces. We’ve now opened a subsidiary that will do this for them. It is a sign of our commitment to India,” Chatrath explained.