By Ben Newport-Foster

They‘ say that you only have one chance to make a first impression, and judging from my time working in a jewelers, that saying holds up. Waxing poetic about a brand’s history or showcasing the objectively better qualities of a certain movement would always come second to whether the customer liked the look of the watch. This is what Vincent Calabrese, the designer of the original Golden Bridge, realized back in the 1970s when he worked at a watch boutique in Switzerland. When a customer brought into the boutique a Breguet minute-repeater that had been run over by a car, Vincent set about creating a quote for the refurbishment of the case and the movement. To his shock, the customer refused to have the movement repaired saying that no-one would see it anyway. Vincent later recalled that “His words stung my ears and it led me to produce a timepiece where the movement, and not the case or design, is the star“.

The Corum Golden Bridge Rectangle perfectly balances beautiful design with jaw-dropping horology.

Creating a linear movement set into a thin, gold bridge between two halves of a case was not without its challenges, but in 1977, the first Golden Bridge prototype was completed (and with only 45 parts!). It didn’t have any water resistance and had a myriad of technical problems but it still won the gold medal at the Geneva International Inventor’s Show. After the event, the founder of Corum, Rene Bannwart, approached Vincent with the proposal of making the watch for his brand. Three years later in 1980, the Corum Golden Bridge was launched and is quickly became one of the brand’s most recognizable timepieces.

Now 37 years later, Corum has introduced a newly designed Golden Bridge collection with the Rectangle launching earlier this year.

The more substantial case and golden beams are immediately noticeable. The first Golden Bridge had a completely empty dial with an absolute focus on the movement, but the new Rectangle adds some needed structure and visual impact in the form of rose gold beams that as stylized Roman numerals. The new beams are not thin strips of gold floating in the crystal, but instead have a depth and structure all of their own that can be seen when the watch is tilted at an angle. The silver colored rivets in the center column add a little bit of functionality when telling the time but are mostly there for artistic flair. Measuring 29.5mm by 42.2mm and at 9.3mm thick, the Golden Bridge sits very well on the wrist and packs more of an impact than its delicate movement might suggest.

The highlight of the watch is the linear movement, completely visible through both sides of the watch.

Something interesting that I found is that it’s quite strange to turn over a mechanical watch to be greeted by a mirror image of what you were just looking at! To those who think display backs are silly because you have to take the watch off your wrist, I think this is the watch for you! The bridge itself, like the case and beams, is made from 18kt rose gold and is finished by hand with impeccable detail with some decorative curling along the center. Seeing the gear train turn as you wind the watch or watching the balance wheel oscillate is memorizing, and this is coming from someone who dislikes skeleton watches! My usual critique with skeleton watches is that the functionality of the watch is always put second to the visual splendor of seeing the movement, but this linear design is marvelous without compromising anything about the watch.

The Caliber CO113 beats at the standard 4hz/ 28,800bph and has a modest power reserve of 40 hours. Having come from reviewing the Christopher Ward C1 Grand Malvern 5 Day Automatic, I will say that there was a bit of whiplash when adjusting to the shorter power reserve, yet I can’t find myself having much to complain about. This isn’t a watch designed for practicality and whilst I will continue to moan about ‘normal’ watches having only 40 hours, it just doesn’t feel right when talking about the Corum Golden Bridge. Would you complain that your new Bugatti didn’t have enough cup holders when speeding to 60 miles an hour in under 2 seconds.

Now, I’ll be frank and say that at $36,900, I can’t afford this watch. Ok, ok… I’ll never be able to afford this watch! It’s almost impossible to ‘review’ a watch like this that is so outside of my budget and my sphere of watches that I usually wear. The Golden Bridge Rectangle is just as much of a watch as it is a work of art, and how does one start measuring art on a ‘value for money’ basis?

I’m not usually one for the line of thinking that states watches are status symbols…but I will say that I felt untouchable whilst wearing the Golden Bridge (Whilst at the same time being very, very, VERY wary of walking into doorknobs). One can acquire a certain swagger  when wearing a solid gold watch that costs more than the average family car. I like to think I’m a pretty down to earth guy so it’s not a swagger I’d like to get used to, but I must admit that I did enjoy it. If you can afford the Corum then I would really recommend you look into it as it’s a unique watch that is bound to catch people’s eye no matter their horological education. For more info, please visit corum.ch