To describe the past year as a hectic one for Davide Traxler is probably an understatement. From the moment of his appointment as Corum’s chief operating officer in mid-September last year, Traxler hit the ground running, launching several new watch models (from both the brand’s Bubble and Bridges collections) in rapid succession. Response from the public was favourable, with Corum posting a 104 percent growth for the first half of 2016 — making it the “fastest-growing luxury watch brand in the market at the moment”, he says.
“We have to show the world that we are alive; that we are faster; and that we are making it happen,” explains Traxler of his strategy as we chat over coffee. In town on a day-long stopover after an event in Hong Kong, the New York-born Swiss further reveals the series of new timepieces are, in fact, a reaction to both consumer and retailer feedback. “When I first joined Corum, I did a listening exercise around the world. And now, we are basically working on our icons and applying changes that might seem like common sense,” he elaborates.
Elucidating this point is the recent launch of the Round Golden Bridge watches. Traditionally, pieces from Corum’s Golden Bridge collection (which draws inspiration from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and presents a baguette movement crafted in its likeness, suspended within the case) have traditionally been released in a tonneau shape. “But among both male and female consumers, tonneau is actually the least popular shape overall, while round cases remain the most popular,” says Traxler. Releasing the instantly recognisable Corum baguette movement in a round case would seem, of course, like the natural thing to do.
As such, two Golden Bridge Round versions were unveiled this year. Crafted in 18k rose gold, the 43-mm watches came in diamond and non-diamond-set variants. Response was encouraging and he notes that a Golden Bridge Round model, crafted especially for the ladies, is already in the works and slated for release before the end of the year. A Golden Bridge watch with a rectangular case will also make its debut in the near future. In the meantime, Traxler already has a prototype strapped to his wrist. “Of course, what I’m wearing now is probably not what is going to be introduced in the end,” he says. “But the case shape will remain, as the feedback I’ve received so far has been very positive,” he adds with a smile.
Yet another of Corum’s collections that received special attention this year was of the Bubble. Originally released in 2000, the Bubble collection’s 2015 reintroduction was met with such resounding success that it is now regarded as one of Corum’s three key watch pillars (the other two are the Bridges and Admiral’s Cup lines). Currently the brand’s fastest-selling product, the Bubble is responsible for about 25 percent of Corum’s total sales volume. And it’s not hard to see why, given its distinctive design elements — such as its domed sapphire crystal that creates an almost-spherical aesthetic — and the interestingly varied range of models available of late. Several of these pieces are the result of collaborations with creative types, including Mexican surrealist artist Pedro Friedeberg, who designed two timepieces for the brand, and cymbal-maker Paiste. “We choose our collaborators because of the niche they represent, and their following,” he says. “They are all leaders in their own trades.”
Corum’s latest collaborator is as good an example as any: Steve Aoki. An award-winning DJ and music producer on the electronic dance music scene, Aoki has garnered a strong fan base over the years. While details about the watch — which was designed on a boat in Ibiza within an afternoon due to Aoki’s punishing tour schedule — have been kept tightly under wraps, Traxler does hint that it is “funky”, “brightly coloured” and “named after Neon Future (Aoki’s 2014/2015 two-part album)”. The timepiece is set to debut later this month.
Plans to introduce more collaborators to the Bubble collection are already underway. Traxler reveals the brand has just inked a deal with a “beautiful female actress and artist that is well-known in certain areas of the world”. While he declines to comment more until the official announcement, he does tease that people are “definitely interested” in this new collaboration. He also divulges that a jumbo-sized Bubble timepiece measuring a whopping 52mm will be released before the year comes to a close. “And believe it or not, the request for such a piece came from Asia,” Traxler says with a laugh.
In a further sign that he has no intention of slowing down efforts to grow Corum, Traxler discloses a refresh for the brand’s Admiral’s Cup line can be expected for Baselword 2017. Materials used in the case and dial are the focus of the update. “We are already getting a lot of compliments for it,” he says with a grin. “We know exactly where we are going and there is a lot happening.”