Some of the oldest bridges we have ever found evidence for are approximately 6,000 years old, though they were not much more than wooden boardwalks through marshy areas. The oldest stone arch bridge still standing is the Arkadiko Bridge in southern Greece dating to around 1,300 BCE, while some other remnants of stone bridges date to a few centuries earlier.
Humanity has a long history of bridge building, and by the time the Roman empire arrived, we had already largely perfected arched stone bridges. The Pons Fabricius, a double stone arch bridge in Rome across the Tiber River, was built in 62 BCE and has been used continuously since construction, largely remaining intact as it was originally built. A nearly 2,100-year-old bridge basically looking no different than one from Renaissance Europe is simply wild to consider.
It just goes to show how talented, intelligent, and creative humans have been for a long time. Bridges are a simple enough idea but to construct one requires patience, coordination with multiple people (usually), and a firm understanding of structural requirements so that it doesn’t fall down on the first crossing or in a strong breeze.
Today, bridge design and engineering is often considered one of the pinnacles of civil engineering, a focal point of any city, able to sustain commerce for a massive number of people.
To put it bluntly, bridges are one of the most important human inventions. And most people don’t think twice about them; we just use them. But they are a wonder of engineering and a crucial element of civilization dating back to the beginnings of human settlement and civilization.
So I have always found it fitting that one of the most iconic watches in modern history, the Corum Golden Bridge, is designed around this very old structure.
The year 2020 heralded the fortieth anniversary of the first Corum Golden Bridge. Marking the occasion at the end of the year, Corum released two limited editions in a case similar to the original but with modern embellishments and improvements – the best of both worlds, you could say.
The Corum Golden Bridge Rectangle 40th Anniversary limited editions are a celebration of the Golden Bridge and a reminder of just how unique the original was when it was released. Let’s dive in.
Corum Golden Bridge Rectangle 40th Anniversary
The first thing you notice when you see a Golden Bridge watch is that it looks incredible. The second thing you might notice is that it doesn’t feel vintage, retro, or aged in any way: these feel as fresh and of the moment as many watches released today.
But, importantly, these watches are also strikingly similar to the original Golden Bridge released in 1980, and that is the most telling thing about just how well this design has aged.
The new Golden Bridge Rectangle 40th Anniversary models are extremely straightforward, just like the original models, featuring a baguette-shaped bridge movement suspended down the center of a rectangular case, displaying hours and minutes with the entire movement on display.
With a crown at 6 o’clock, the modern Golden Bridge movement sees the winding mechanism and barrel provide the base for the bridge, with the gear train stacking up to the top where at 12 o’clock a small balance wheel oscillates at 4 Hz.
Also slightly departing from the original Golden Bridge, the cases have now been gently massaged with slightly more modern surface finishes, and the decoration and engraving is more flamboyant than the original (which is saying something for a watch that broke with a lot of tradition).
The two versions of the Golden Bridge Rectangle 40th Anniversary provide enough jazz for anyone who appreciates the original aesthetic enough to pick up an homage but still likes to collect modern watches. Yet it also didn’t change much, with most changes being noticeable on the movement itself.
Corum Golden Bridge Rectangle 40th Anniversary: flair and mechanics
As many fans familiar with the history of the Golden Bridge may remember, the original movements were rather delicate, leading to the movement being reengineered around 20 years ago for more stability.
This reengineered movement ticks away inside the 40th Anniversary and looks sturdier than that in the original watches, making the aesthetic a slight departure and more technical. The originals really were a thin bridge spanning the length of the case, delicately supporting the gear train sandwiched between.
While the improved movement has a similar visual aesthetic, the beautifully engraved bridge improves rigidity and provides more points of support that strengthen the assembly. The base of the movement is more of a slim pyramid than a thin blade of gold and is filled out by the winding mechanism.
It doesn’t look like much but for anyone who has tried to make a very delicate thing, adding just a little extra material can go a long way in maximizing strength.
Thematically, the 40th Anniversary retains the standard Golden Bridge design, keeping true to the original. The case shape has been changed to accommodate a more reliable way to secure the sapphire crystal instead of the shaped and faceted crystals found on the originals, also giving the watch a more stable feel than the original.
But the magic isn’t lost. In fact, Corum has added flourish to these pieces lest the pomp and fanfare be inadequate for some. As mentioned previously, there are two versions: 18-karat pink gold and 18-karat white gold.
The pink gold version, limited to 40 pieces for the fortieth anniversary, features a gilt, repeating Corum key logo pattern on the rear sapphire crystal, making for a transparent tapestry behind the Golden Bridge movement.
The white gold edition is limited to just three pieces and features a hand-engraved case that transforms it into a piece of glittering jewelry as much as a watch. The three pieces are in honor of the three original founders of the brand.
Yet after 40 years and numerous new models, iterations, and aesthetic detours, this original style, slightly updated for modern manufacturing and contemporary tastes, still feels as if it could have been made in 1980.
I think this is easily the most successful thing about the Golden Bridge Rectangle 40th Anniversary: it doesn’t look out of place no matter the era. Some of the more avant-garde, sporty versions of the Golden Bridge definitely feel tied to a time and place, but this watch doesn’t.
Out of every possible model made in the watch industry in 1980 only a small handful still hold up today, and the Golden Bridge is one of them. But most watches that still look good after all these years are generally round. The Cartier Tank, Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, and Corum Golden Bridge are the only long-lasting rectangular classics that come to mind.
That is why such a small limited edition of just 43 total watches is a big deal.
Corum is a fairly quiet brand, even though very few of its watches would qualify for most people as quiet watches. A Corum is rarely subdued, yet the brand, surprisingly, lets its watches do the talking, especially when they have such a solid history as the Golden Bridge.
If I was given the choice of choosing any Golden Bridge model – and there are some really crazy, cool models – I’d be hard pressed to look beyond the classic Golden Bridge Rectangle. The pink gold version with gilt logo pattern is my favorite, and I think it would cover my desires for both a wild and ultra-classic watch in one timepiece. The fact that it clearly appears so timeless is the final box checked to make this a watch deserving to be in any collection.
So while I save up some tokens to get my hands on one, let’s break it down!