My favorite family of watches in the current collection of Corum products is the Admirals’ Cup. Based on a now defunct boat race, the original Admiral’s Cup watch began in the 1980s and was the original yachting watch to wear on or off deck with your boating shoes and skipper cap. What has marked the Admiral’s Cup collection for so long is the 12-sided case and the use of colorful boat pennant flags on the hour markers. The latter has been mostly depreciated as the colors no longer exist on most new Admiral’s Cup watches. Many new Admiral’s Cup watches are still rather cool. However, with watches like the Chronograph Tourbillon 47 Seafender (that in its own way is interesting) I feel like the original theme and personality of the Admiral’s Cup collection has officially been thrown overboard.
We actually debuted the Seafender versions of the Admiral’s Cup watches when the Seafender 47 Tourbillon GMT was released in 2011. At 47mm wide, Corum decided it was fitting in the yacht watch collection to produce an aluminum-cased tourbillon. There was also an 18k red gold version. While these Seafender Tourbillons are admittedly interesting, I just see no business putting them inside of Admiral’s Cup-style cases. The above model with diamonds has one of the strangest personalities I’ve seen all year. It isn’t a matter of good or bad even though it isn’t for me, it is more a matter than it twists the DNA of the Admiral’s Cup collection so much that it has all but lost any meaning.
On paper, the Corum Admiral’s Cup Chronograph Tourbillon 47 Seafender sounds like a worthy idea. It has a bunch of interesting features and slick materials such that the sum of its parts could actually be highly provocative. Rather, we have a watch built like a Cadillac that mated with an Abrams tanks. These worlds of aggressive luxury boating and high-end complications just don’t meld together properly in my eyes.
Rather than mate a tourbillon with a GMT complication, this Seafender marries a tourbillon and a chronograph – again with a dial for the date. Powering the watch is the caliber CO 398 automatic that is pretty nice. if you recall what I said about the first Corum Seafender watch it was that the movement view looked better than the dial. The caliber CO 398 is rare, being an automatic for a tourbillon, and on top of that, it’s a tourbillon that operates at 4 Hz. The 60 minute chronograph is column-wheel based, and the dial features a nice window for the tourbillon (with a Corum key logo on it). This dial is much more composed than the Seafender GMT, but that version with the small round-cut diamonds actually in the sub dials just doesn’t do it for me. Let me ask you, while I do feel that there is a place for diamonds on an Admiral’s Cup case (especially baguette-cut ones)… are they really helping anyone by being on the dial like that?
Exploding from the head of this late Severin Wunderman, the Corum Bubble watches defied expectations upon release. The profile of the watch is still remarkably towering, with among the highest-domed crystals I’ve ever seen. The impact that has on the dial is not possible to dismiss. The glass distorts the dial providing it an unnatural sense of thickness. This is appropriate concerning style fidelity, as it totally adheres to the use of spheres throughout the watch — most obviously on the rubber-ringed crown at 3 o’clock. Additionally, it manages to remain true to Wunderman’s unique vision, which was inspired by a 1960s dive watch that featured a massive crystal to hold out against the pressure of deep-sea exploration. But is this view just an homage, or possess Corum updated it considerably to appeal to a modern audience?The first major change is the diameter: The new releases all measure 47mm wide and an impressive 18.8mm top. Smartly, though, the lugs are curved and short to allow a snug fit to the wrist. Of the 18.8mm of height, 8mm of this is down to the sapphire crystal alone. This is seemingly no mean accomplishment: getting a flawless finish on a Sapphire part of the depth, curvature, and necessary consistency is real challenge. Corum achieves this unusual impact by beginning with a block of crystal and squeezing it to some bubble-like shape, before polishing to absolute clarity.To make the most of this feature, the designers of this Corum Bubble watches, chose to match the timepieces using “Op-art” (optical-art) dials. These smart patterns give the sense of motion, as well as depth and shadow. Though level, the dials have a level of presence. Both watches utilise Super-LumiNova on the palms. The magnifying sapphire crystal has this affect on the horizontal dials that they appear to be sharply domed themselves. With this arresting design leaping from the watch, it is easier to understand why this crazy contraption has numerous lovers the world over. Both watches are fitted with rubber straps wrapped with leather, using a buckle fitting their personal case finishes. The straps begin at 24mm between the lugs and taper to 20mm at the buckle.
The Chronograph Tourbillon 47 Seafender is an Admiral’s Cup in case alone. Nothing about the movement or presentation particularly feels like a logical extension of the Admiral’s Cup DNA. Something like this would make much more sense being in a Romulus collection. It doesn’t seem fair that the relative popularity of the Admiral’s Cup line has made it the breeding ground for almost every new concept Corum wants to release. If they want to examine their own past, Corum will find that they are a brand of excellent design creativity and aesthetic ingenuity. I truly want them to return the Admiral’s Cup to a place of some actual marine or yachting distinction and create new visual references for pieces it wants to include a tourbillon chronograph into.
I’ve never really been a fan of watches with aluminum cases because of their fragility. Corum Watches Us has claimed that the aluminum version of this watch has some type “ceramisation” as a coating to offer the dark gray tone. Is that supposed to mean there is some type of ceramic coating on the case to make it strong? I am not sure and that is not exactly what they say. Though I can say I am further not a huge fan of matte finished gray surfaces either for watch cases. In a nutshell I think Corum has really been missing a design opportunity with its high-complication piece like this. Save whatever personality the Admiral’s Cup collection has left and make it great collection again. When it comes to tourbillons or use of novel materials and manufacturing practices, perhaps designing a new collection is a better idea than coming up with names like “Seafender” that I am sure most will argue don’t have any business being paired with a tourbillon to begin with. Price for the Corum Admiral’s Cup Chronograph Tourbillon 47 Seafender watch is 50,900 Euros in the aluminum case, 78,500 Euros in the 18k red gold case, and 225,500 in the 18k red gold case with diamonds. corum.ch