Corum launched the Corum Admiral’s Cup collection in 1960 and the watches were easily identified by their distinctive design: twelve-sided case architecture and nautical flags in place of numerals have been the characteristic markers of this line throughout its history.
In particular, the singular nautical pennants have always formed an unmistakable signature element in this collection – a flagship, so to speak. Rooted in Corum founder René Bannwart’s fondness for sailing and regattas, its original name derived from an annual series of yacht races off the southern coast of England until 2003.
In recent years, the Admiral’s Cup collection has gone through some minor design changes that nonetheless retain the design codes that originally set it apart. Now generally smaller, lighter looking, and somewhat softer in its angular duodenary shape, the Admiral’s Cup has also slightly changed names to become the Admiral collection.
Corum Admiral 2021 standout: 45 Automatic Openworked Flying Tourbillon Carbon & Gold
In 2021, Corum releases several new Admiral timepieces, ranging from smaller, pastel-toned stainless steel or gold models through striking two-tone editions with chocolate brown dials and even some classic homage variations, all with the much-loved original colorful pennants marking the hours on the dial.
But the pinnacle of these new additions is the Corum Admiral 45 Automatic Openworked Flying Tourbillon Carbon & Gold.
Let’s start with the design – and specifically the case as the dynamic high-tech material used here represents an all-new case material for Corum.
Crafted in layers of ultra-light carbon mixed with resin and 30 percent 18-karat 5N red gold flakes, each and every case of this 48-piece edition is unique: as it is heated and compressed before shot into a mold, the gold flakes distribute across the carbon/resin mixture in different ways before settling into place. The result is a rather blithe material 2.5 times lighter than titanium and 4.5 times lighter than 316L stainless steel.
The look is unique – but within that, each case is also unique.
The specific black and gold styling of the case sets the tone for the whole watch and is continued in every other component, including the crown protection made of the same material, with an added ring of composite black resin and the polished red gold, grooved, screw-down crown adorned with an engraved Corum key logo.
The dial also carefully adheres to this color scheme, with only the displays, visible gears, and tourbillon left in their natural steely colors, setting them apart and putting the focus on their functionality and importance.
The red gold-plated bronze track flange around the perimeter of the dial, also lightly 12-sided to follow the shape of the carbon-and-gold bezel, is home to both the hashmarks for minutes and the hour markers, which are heavily stylized pennants in a black gold galvanic treatment.
The Admiral’s Cup pennants – such a classic design component for this collection – disappeared off the dials for a while (but are back now for the most part), and here the shape is highly reminiscent of that period. In this form the pennant hour markers do not take away from the real stars of the show: the gold-flecked black case and the one-minute flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock.
Held in place by technical-looking brass bridges in keeping with the overall flow, functions added to the hour and minute include a power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock and a three-minute counter at 3 o’clock. These two displays are counterbalanced by the visible flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock and the visible mainspring barrel offering 72 hours’ worth of power at 12 o’clock.
Unobtrusive hands coated with black Super-LumiNova proudly point to the time, which seems a little secondary on this imposing timepiece.
The Admiral Openworked Flying Tourbillon Carbon & Gold is completed with an equally creative strap made of rubber and synthetic textiles stitched together with genuine gold thread.
Now Corum Admiral 45 Automatic Openworked Flying Tourbillon Carbon & Gold: movement
Aside from the mechanical beauty of the flying tourbillon, Caliber CO 298 boasts another special functional element: the three-minute counter. Inspired by the symbolism of the three founders of Corum (René Bannwart, Gaston Ries, and Simone Ries), the playful idea of the three-minute counter was born and takes its position on the dial where the small seconds would usually be.
Corum’s technicians had to recalculate the seconds gearing so that the counter shows 180 instead of 60. This wasn’t a huge development, though, as the brand supercharged the watch with a freshly developed movement.
Though the movement is openworked, not everything is visible from the front, just the mesmerizing flying tourbillon escapement at 6 o’clock, the spring barrel at 12 o’clock, and the gear train and underdial gearing, which is mainly visible on top of the black plate in the center of the watch.
Not skeletonizing the entirety of the movement (and showing it all) is a great compromise as the watch highlights the desired technical elements but doesn’t make an already busy watch too busy.
The openworked, black PVD-coated movement is also visible on the back where some components can be seen through the full-sized galvanically treated brass rotor that covers the entirety of the opening. Its shape is a nod to an historic sailing ship’s wheel, which ties back into the classic Admiral’s Cup collection thematic.
This watch has been created in a limited edition of just 48 pieces – and this number also holds some symbolism, though not from Corum’s history this time, but rather from Chinese numerology.
As Corum’s marketing and communication manager Marc Wälti explained to me, “The number 4 is about our passion and dynamism, while the number 8 resonates with the manifestation of wealth and abundance, learning by experience, inner strength and wisdom, autonomy, and reliability. Both together are the reward of hard work done well.”
There were a LOT of watches that were announced a few weeks back at the virtual show Watches & Wonders. We’ve covered a few so far, but one of the ones that really caught my eye was the Corum Admiral 45 Openworked Tourbillon.
With Corum, the Admiral lineup has been there for some time, and even having a flying tourbillon right there on the dial, that’s something we’ve seen before. So, how does Corum mix it up? You take ultra-light (and ultra-strong) carbon fiber, and mix it up in layers complete with gold flake. Forged carbon has always looked cool to me (though not sure that this is forged), but mixing in the gold flake really just makes it all the more interesting in my book.