Tested: Corum Ti-Bridge
written by A.Morgan - 23rd Jan 2012
Noun: A structure spanning and providing passage over a gap or barrier.
About the construction of bridges, the legendary engineer and stovepipe hat wearer Isambard Kingdom Brunel once said, ‘I am opposed to the laying down of rules or conditions lest the progress of tomorrow might be shackled by the prejudices of today,’ a bold, if slightly concerning from a health-and-safety point of view statement that embodies his entire pioneering legacy in just a handful of words.
The Swiss watch industry is a stickler for rules and is bound by many covenants of tradition – the Geneva Seal for example – and combined with the Swiss penchant for conservatism and you end up with leading watchmakers who don’t change the designs of their watches from one half-century to the next. Of course, there is always a place for traditional design and classical structure, but from Brunel’s point of view, this would render the Norman Foster-designed Millau Viaduct, the two and a half kilometre long, 343 metre high bridge that pierces the clouds over the river Tarn, a complete and utter fantasy.
Taking Brunel’s words to heart are the sometimes nautically-themed challengers of design, Corum, who punched the world in the face with their first version of Bridge in 1980, a fully transparent watch that suspended its movement through the middle along a single, slender passageway. Since then, the design has evolved and developed to include the Ti-Bridge, a chunky, curving block of titanium that shares many of its design themes with those of Brunel’s bridges.
The triangular braces that hang from the case edge to support the engraved titanium bridge are fixed in place by purposely exposed and contrasting screws, and together the whole ensemble comes across as very industrial, but in a futuristic way, as though plucked straight from the set of Blade Runner or Soylent Green. The rules are well and truly out the window, but not in any way at the sacrifice of quality; far from it.
The use of different finishes has been implemented cleverly to set each component apart, each layer a slightly different shade or having a different direction of finish, allowing the eye to see the structure for its simplicity despite such a small scale. It is so well made and thought out that the clear sapphire caseback that allows the user to view the movement from both sides has been shaped to minimise the amount of hairy (or otherwise) wrist that gets exposed when wearing it. Now that’s engineering.
This isn’t a watch for sensitive types; the true beauty is that it exercises the creative freedom and bravery that forces design outside of its comfort zone. It doesn’t comply to rules or conditions, and it certainly doesn’t shackle the progress of tomorrow – if Brunel were alive today, this would most certainly be the watch on his wrist.