Meeting Vincent Calabrese: Inventor of the Corum Golden Bridge

by Jessica

13 December 2013

Corum and Vincent Calabrese recently concluded their “Walk Through The Golden Bridge” tour in New York, Miami and Los Angeles. TimeZone had an exclusive opportunity to spend the day with the Corum team and legendary watchmaker Vincent Calabrese.

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
Master Watchmaker Vincent Calabrese

Vincent Calabrese has always been independent. Born in Naples, Italy in 1944, Vincent dropped out of school at the age of 12 and apprenticed at a small watch repair shop. He earned just enough money to purchase his own tools and then he repaired watches for a number of small watch shops. Throughout that time, Vincent taught himself watchmaking by reading watchmaking books.

When he turned 17, Vincent moved to Switzerland to avoid compulsory military service. While living with his uncle, Vincent found watch repair work at Tissot. He worked at a number of manufactories before settling down at a small watch repair shop.

In 1975, the young watch repairer conceived of an idea to create his own movement. During a time that preceded CAD technology and CNC machines, Vincent spent two intense years developing his movement. The result was a deceptively simple baguette movement with a linear gear train mounted within a faceted sapphire crystal case. Unencumbered by a dial, the beautiful movement appeared suspended. Vincent named his patented invention the, Horlogerie Spatiale (the “Spatial Watch”) and it earned international recognition as the gold medal winner for mechanical watch movement at the prestigious Salon International des Inventions de Genève.

Vincent recalls that time with a mix of pain and joy. The Quartz Crisis of the 1970s was a tumultuous time in Switzerland and it was challenging to find a watch brand to produce his new mechanical movement. Then, he met René Bannwart at Corum and everything changed. A few years later, in 1980, Corum renamed the movement and launched its iconic Golden Bridge. For over 30 years, the Golden Bridge has been in continuous production.

Despite numerous creations and successes, including the flying tourbillon he developed for Blancpain and co-founding the AHCI (Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants), the Golden Bridge remains Vincent’s favourite project. According to Vincent, “The Golden Bridge is my greatest joy. With the Golden Bridge, I was not only a watchmaker, but I also became an inventor.”

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
The first Golden Bridge launched in 1980 (Corum Museum)

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
Golden Bridge, No. 904, circa late 1980s (Corum Museum)

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
Golden Bridge, No. 2755 circa 1990s (Corum Museum)

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
The hand-engraved plate and bridges made from 18-carat gold

Earlier this year, Corum’s CEO Antonio Calce announced a renewed partnership between Corum and Vincent Calabrese. The partnership involves not only touring the world to recall the history of the Golden Bridge, but Vincent Calabrese will also collaborate with Corum’s Movement R&D team headed by Laurent Besse. Already, Vincent and the Corum team have two creative ideas in mind. An official announcement of their major development will be made in the near future.

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
Vincent Calabrese at the “Walk Through The Golden Bridge” tour in Los Angeles

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
(L-R) Jeff Cox from Corum, Ronald Lee and Vincent Calabrese

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
Jeff Cox wearing the Ti-Bridge

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
Heritage Classical Billionaire Tourbillon, Unique Piece
skeleton Tourbillon with sapphire crystal plate & bridges

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
Golden Bridge Tourbillon Panoramique
flying Tourbillon with sapphire crystal plate & bridges

Vincent Calabrese, AHCI, Corum Golden Bridge, master watchmaker, independent watchmaker
Golden Bridge, Unique Piece
645 black baguette diamonds (36.56 carats)

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