“Coherency of time” dictates Corum’s positioning of its 2012 collections, split clearly between the sport watches in the Admiral’s Cup range and the Bridges watches with their iconic baguette movements. However, the highlight of this year’s novelties is a unique minute-repeater on four notes.

 

There are no grey areas in Antonio Calce’s mental mapping of the world. His concept of the watch business is built on careful consideration and implacable logic, in turn shaped by his perception of the market and the hard facts of production. Like a Greek phalanx, Corum marches ahead, convinced of victory. Its battle cry for 2012 is “coherency of time” at every level, from product to distribution to the choice of brand ambassadors, all with the aim of conquering market share.

In command of creation and development

Products first: Corum’s watches are now shared between two flagship collections. They are Admiral’s Cup for sport watches and Bridges, driven by the legendary baguette movements, for aficionados of sophisticated timepieces. Corum has split this second collection into the Golden Bridge range, a continuation of the original models of the 1980s, and the more contemporary Ti-Bridge with its horizontal movement. The Admiral’s Cup collection breaks down into three segments – Seafender for extreme conditions, Challenger for performance, and Legend for every day – and is at the centre of Corum’s launches for 2012. “There was a definite gap to be filled and that gap was ‘contemporary sport’ watches,” explained Chief Executive Calce at Baselworld. “The new models we’re offering in this category include an annual calendar, a chronograph, a microrotor tourbillon and the Mystery Moon, a lady’s watch whose rotating dial displays moon phases in a completely new way.”

In the Bridges collection, Corum has introduced new cases for its Ti-Bridge Flying Tourbillon and T-Bridge Three-Day Power Reserve. This year’s showstopper, however, is the Admiral’s Cup Legend 46 Minute Repeater Acoustica. The minute-repeater complication was developed in collaboration with La Fabrique du Temps and is the first ever to strike four notes with four hammers working in pairs to produce harmonies. “It’s common knowledge that La Fabrique du Temps was taken over by LVMH,” says Calce, “but this won’t raise any difficulties. As with the Bridges line, we are gradually incorporating the expertise that will enable us not just to assemble but also to create a network of suppliers capable of meeting our requirements. This is the direction we intend to take. We aim to remain at the head of product creation and development. Legitimacy hinges on this capacity to claim “paternity” of our watches. Having said that, emblematic models aside, there is no compelling reason to produce absolutely everything in-house.”

Accelerating visibility

Calce applies this same bare-bones logic to distribution. Last year the brand set up a subsidiary in the United States, its seventh to date, and hosted an assembly of representatives of 12 Latin-American countries in Mexico. This year it plans to open no fewer than 78 points of sale in the LatAm region, including a dozen in Brazil. “We know full well that, financially speaking, these new outlets in Brazil won’t benefit the brand given the import duty Brazil levies on luxury goods. However, the brand must be present in the BRIC countries because they now dictate global business. Let me explain. There is every reason to believe that building a powerful and local identity in these countries will reap rewards. Not so much in the countries themselves because of the prohibitively high taxes, but among tourists. For example, at one of Miami’s biggest malls specialising in luxury goods, 80% of customers are Brazilian. What would be the point of having a store there if Brazilians had never heard of your brand? This is why we now have an office in India. As for China, the 22 points of sale we’ve opened there are essential in reaching customers who want to immerse themselves in the brand’s world.”

Unsurprisingly, Corum’s sponsorship strategy also follows a strict hierarchy. The brand, which has strong ties with sailing, promotes its partnership with the America’s Cup on a global scale, while building associations with national stars who have the potential to boost brand image, such as skier Didier Cruche in Switzerland, singer Elissa in Lebanon, and the Zenith Football Club in Russia, not forgetting round-the-world skipper Loïc Peyron whose recent victory in the Jules Verne Trophy smashed the existing record. Calce describes these personalities as “visibility accelerators.” In this neatly compartmentalized view, there can be no overstepping the lines.