Vincent Calabrese in 1980
Corum, derived from the word “quorum,” founded in 1955 by Gaston Ries and his nephew René Bannwart headquartered in La Chaux-de-Fonds spearheaded an avant-garde powerhouse. Corum’s claim to fame arrived after bold experimentation on shapes in the Chinese Hat collection. The brand’s elegant twist on an authentic gold coin in the Coin Watch timepiece curated international attention and was worn by several prominent members of society from the US presidents to Nobel Prize laureates. Its watchmaking skills gleamed in The Feather, Rolls-Royce, Trapeze, and more. Corum not only opened its door to out of reach concept but also built a legacy in modern horology with its renowned Golden Bridge Timepiece.
Prototype of the Golden Bridge
Golden Bridge started with a bang, quite literally. The idea was planted after a distressed customer presented a watchmaker in the Swiss Alps a destroyed Breguet watch of 19th century ran over by a car. The costly restoration fee startled the customer, led him to decide to only repair the case claiming whatever beneath, not visible, as irrelevant. This pivotal moment planted an idea for Vincent Calabrese, the watchmaker the man encountered. But the ideation didn’t flourish till later. When leading brands were too big to provide a personal touch to customization other than engraving names onto cases, Calabrese revolutionized by conveying the customer’s essence into the structure of the mechanism. This kicked start what at that time has yet had a name but now well known as the Golden Bridge.
Mouvement of the Golden Bridge as submitted in 1980
An isolated baguette movement, made up by linear gear trains, mounted within a transparent sapphire crystal case, and lined by anti-glare crystal to increase visibility. The signature isolated bridge created the illusion of the mechanisms having no connections to the case, a first in the art of horology. It has less than 50 parts, 18 jewels, and 21,600 vibrations per hour with a 40-hour power reserve. The concept was introduced in 1977 at the Geneva International Inventors Show, where Bannwart was stunned by the potential and stroked up a rapport with Calabrese, invited him to join Corum, and the rest is history. Soon after its formal debut in 1983, variations followed celebrating how it deconstructed the norms, flipped the expectations, and stripped the rules. Up till this day, it is not only regarded as a Corum icon but a modern horology avant-garde timepiece on the market.
The Golden Bridge in 1980
Vincent Calabrese is more than a horologist. He’s a craftsman by training, a curious philosopher by nature, and a rebel by heart. An Italian watchmaker extraordinaire who rose to the top in a Swiss dominated industry. His burning inquisitiveness fuels his way of living which permeates into his career. Before he could create the Golden Bridge, he had to design tools that suit his vision. A mastermind ahead of his time, fiercely grasping what’s truly important to a timepiece. There’s no arrogance in his genius. He speaks with a soothing voice and at a calming pace. He shared in a candid interview on conducts when his Italian nationality hindered his path. A rift occurred when the media requested to shorten his name for marketing convenience. The rude awakening prompted him founding Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, an association with the mission to give stage to independent watchmaking forces, connect like-minded artisans, and provide outsiders by the standard of industry a place to shine. His down to earth demeanor makes him human and authentic. The two great qualities sacred in great artists. He still speaks of building a legacy but he has already done so having Golden Bridge thrived under his watch and founding an academy that garnered independent watch enthusiasts. A great artist is not solely about the work he crafts but the impacts he dawns on others’ lives. Vincent Calabrese is an artist with a good heart that happens to be a genius in horology.
Vincent Calabrese at his workbench