Every so often, in the flurry of writing up pre-Baselworld news updates on new watches, I come across one that makes me pause and wonder, hmmm, what would this baby look like and feel like on my wrist? Most of the time, I am content to wait for Baselworld itself, where I am likely to have an opportunity to see the watch up close and try it on. Occasionally, however, I am moved to find out if I can spend some quality time with a watch before the fair. This is the case with the new Corum Golden Bridge Rectangle, the latest execution of that brand’s iconic timepiece with the linear, baguette-shaped movement. To my pleasant surprise, Corum was actually able to send me one ahead of its release, meaning I would not only not have to wait for Basel to try it on; I would be wearing it throughout the fair. Here are impressions from a week at Baselworld with the Corum Golden Bridge Rectangle.
The Golden Bridge Rectangle is the latest iteration of the genre-busting original Golden Bridge from 1980, which introduced the world’s first linear-oriented, manual-winding movement in a distinctive tonneau-shaped case. Since then, Corum has over the years produced many offspring from that original model, among them versions with a self-winding movement; the “Ti-Bridge” models, in which the classical gold cases are replaced with titanium; and last year’s Golden Bridge Round.
The Rectangle is somewhat of a return to classical looks, modest proportions, and simplicity. The soft-edged rectangular case is in 18k rose gold, with a gleaming polished finish. The lugs curve gracefully around the wrist. The dimensions of 29.5 mm x 42.2 mm are contemporary, yet err on the side of discreet. And the movement, Caliber CO113, requires hand-winding — preferably on a daily basis, as the power reserve is a relatively short 40 hours, stored in the spring barrel placed at the 6 o’clock end of the vertically designed caliber. (Winding the watch in the morning, before jumping on the trolley to the Baselworld exhibition halls, became a pleasant part of my workday whilst in Switzerland.)
If you’re new to wearing the Golden Bridge, you will want to memorize one thing right off the bat: namely, the unconventional location of the crown, at the bottom of the case below the 6 o’clock position, flanked by curved guards. If you strap on the watch in haste, without checking the orientation of the relatively small crown, you could end up putting the watch on upside down and thus getting an utterly confusing reading of the time on the dial. The crown, which is grooved on its edges and engraved with Corum’s “key” emblem on the surface, is a little difficult to grasp for larger fingers, especially while the watch is being worn; best to remove the watch before winding it, which is a much simpler operation.
Of course, this watch’s showcase elements are those framed by the gold case, underneath the sapphire crystals (front and back). The six highly stylized, curved Roman numerals (I, III, V, VII, IX, and XI) are anchored to their arched bases by tiny rivets; the centers of those arched structures feature a criss-cross effect reminiscent of crossbeams or girders; the overall effect was intended to evoke the architecture of a suspension bridge (apparently, designer Dino Modolo, who also designed this watch’s round-cased predecessor, opted for a more literal, rather than horological, interpretation of the “bridge” motif.) The brushed finishing on these elements contrasts pleasingly with the fine polished surface of the case and adds to the sense of depth. Moreover, the hands’ rhodium-plated finish makes reading the time surprisingly easy against the mostly golden elements behind them.
At the heart of the timepiece, centered between the rows of Roman numerals and swept over by the faceted, sword-shaped hour and minute hands, is the CO113 caliber, whose vertically oriented gears and wheels and lavishly engraved 18k gold bridge is a treat for the eye and begs to be scrutinized under a loupe. The escapement’s balance wheel, oscillating at a swift 28,800-vph frequency, adds dynamism to the watch at 12 o’clock. The Corum logo in gold relief is incorporated into the floral engravings on the front of the movement, while “18K” and “Swiss” are referenced on the back. And here is where I shut up and let the photos do some of the talking:
The Corum “key” emblem makes another prominent appearance, as the closure of the 18k gold double-folding clasp that secures this timepiece to the wrist with its shiny, reddish brown alligator strap. The brushed surfaces of the clasp mechanism echo those on the suspension-bridge numerals.
Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of wearing the Corum Golden Bridge Rectangle at Baselworld was seeing the reactions of other watch industry professionals to this piece — which, of course, had not yet been released to the market — every time I slipped it off my wrist to try on another brand’s watch. Needless to say, it rarely sat on the presentation table off to my side for too long before drawing curious, admiring glances and inquiries. At least through this bit of this anecdotal evidence, it appears that Corum has hit a home run with this new version of the Golden Bridge: very wearable, undeniably luxurious, and truly different from any other timepiece out there. And priced at $36,900, you can be sure that the watch is destined to find a very discerning audience.