René Bannwart was born in Switzerland and always had a weakness for designer watches, particularly wristwatches.
One question always fascinated him: why is one model more successful than another? This curiosity led him to found the Corum brand in 1955, with his uncle, Gaston Ries, and cousin Simone. The trio wanted to make "fresh" watches rather than "rehashing" copies of models which had already been produced for decades.
The first collection, in 1956, confirmed this ambition. An important design element which caused a sensation in 1958 was in fact only the result of chance, when a supplier of dials for a new line of watches, marking the inauguration of the Salon de l’Horlogerie, was unable to deliver the dials on time. Bannwart was forced to improvise. At the last minute, he produced dials without numerals, decorated only with the name "Corum" and the brand’s famous emblem, a vertical key. Against all expectations, these "sans heures" (without hours) dials were an immediate hit.
The brand’s other designer watches, including the coin watches, the “Golden Bridge,” watches with bars, the “Romulus” and the athletic-style “Admirals Cup” prove that Bannwart watches always have flair. The Admirals Cup model appeared in catalogues for the first time in 1960, although originally still with a square case. Since the Golden Bridge’s filigree movement was entirely manufactured on-site, Corum could now legitimately claim the status of a watchmaking factory.
From December 1998 to January 1999, the Corum brand was jointly owned by CRB Holding (Bannwart family and the Al Fardan Group in Doha, Qatar), before being taken over by Severin Wunderman in January 1999.
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