1956 saw the unveiling of a new watch collection for a new watch company. One model was particularly well received - a rather classy piece featuring a mechanical movement with a quite useful addition for the time, an alarm function.
Also available for purchase back then was a 100 piece limited edition with an automatic movement. Both editions bore the new, but now synonymous "key logo". The company was Corum, and the timepiece was the Chargé d’Affaires a watch, which heralded the arrival of Gaston Reis and his nephew René Bannwart's new watchmaking business.
The creation ofauthentic re-issues is something which Corum are extremely masterful at achieving. The 2011 Grand Précis not only captured the elegance of the original Précis aesthetics, within its movement were also some calibre components of the 1957 model, having been stored away safely for more than fifty years. And the re-issues of the Chinese Hat, the Golden Tube and the Golden Bridge in 2010 were more than pleasing on the eye.
Both the Précis and the Chargé d’Affaires were respectful of the fashion of the time, with an elegance and restraint which would eventually give way to the flamboyant years at Corum - before coins were split to create watch dials, before the wonderfully wacky seventies feather dials and Rolls Royce avant-garde watches, before the Admiral’s Cup and before the creation of calibres which were formed into almost impossibly slim baguette forms. Both of these classical, but mechanically sophisticated pieces were to become the blocks on which Corum would build its "Four Pillars" ... and its future.
Corum describe this edition of the Chargé d’Affaires as "virtually identical" to the original, and it is. Only a slight up-size of the case, to 38mm, has changed. Corum resist the urge to fiddle or re-work anything else, even the original calibre, the manual-wind Calibre CO286 is used to power the piece, having been restored using traditional methods and vintage tools.
On the case side are two neatly tucked-in crowns, one for the alarm and one for the hands - and with a twin barrel system which provides individual energy for both the alarm and timekeeping functions, the alarm is able to sound for more that 12 seconds without affecting precision.
The dial is silver-toned with applied indices, and the faceted dauphine hands are really rather beautiful, contrasting superbly with the vivacity of the red-tipped alarm hand. Visible through the case back is the inscription on the sound bridge "1956-2013" offering further tribute to the importance of the original.
The Corum Chargé d’Affaires will be limited to a 150 piece 18K gold edition, and a 50 piece 18K white gold edition.
More information at Corum.
And perhaps a look-see at our extensive Corum archives?