One of the biggest news items for watch fans last year was about something small: the Corum Golden Bridge turned 30.  Introduced in 1980, the Corum Golden Bridge was then and is now a design that plays against conventional expectations of a watch.  The Golden Bridge begins with an unusually shaped mechanism: it’s what’s known as a “baguette” style movement, resembling the elongated loaf of the same name, and instead of putting the gears in a circular arrangement, as is normally the case, they’re placed in a straight line, so that the mainspring barrel is at one end and the escapement (with its oscillating balance wheel) is at the other.

The unusually shaped movement is the star of the watch in the Golden Bridge timepieces and as such, it’s not hidden under a dial; instead, the Golden Bridge watches have since 1980 featured a case that’s open both front and back to allow the movement to be seen in its entirety.  Last year, to celebrate the anniversary of the design, Corum introduced the first Golden Bridge tourbillon watches in a limited edition of 33, and this year Corum introduced an even more exotic version of the Golden Bridge Tourbillon, with a sapphire bridge holding the tourbillon carriage in place.

The sapphire bridge replaces a section of the movement bridge (Corum calibre CO123) which is usually made of gold, with transparent sapphire.  The tourbillon started life in 1801 as an invention intended to reduce the effects of gravity on the accuracy of a watch by putting the regulating components in a rotating cage, and the sapphire bridge provides a completely unobstructed view of its fascinating action –and it’s also a clever extension of the philosophy of lightness, elegance, and transparency that was the inspiration for the original Golden Bridge, 30 years ago.  The movement seems to hang in midair, providing the visual exhilaration of the vaulting thrust of a suspension bridge in miniature.

In a dramatic, elegant case that’s also technically a tour de force (it has four sapphire panels allowing a view of the movement from all sides, but is still water resistant to 30 meters) the Golden Bridge Tourbillon with Sapphire Bridge is a one-two punch of watchmaking sophistication and sheer artistry.

The Corum Golden Bridge Tourbillon with Sapphire Bridge is a limited edition of 15 pieces in red gold (shown) and 10 in white gold.  The white gold model: $126,750; red gold, $125,000.

Jack Forster is the Editor in Chief of Revolution Magazine, a quarterly publication celebrating the world of fine watchmaking, and he also manages Revolution Online the foremost information and discussion site on the internet for watch enthusiasts.

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