La Chaux-de-Fonds, January 13, 2010
At a time when the brand celebrates several anniversaries, its founding father, René Bannwart, bows out. In the privacy of his family and to respect his wishes, a final tribute was paid to him in La Chaux-de-Fonds on Friday, January 15, 2010. The story of a discreet entrepreneur with a confirmed creative talent.
Born March 16, 1915 in Zurich, René Bannwart spent his childhood in Basel before heading to Geneva to study at the Business School, where he developed his passion for business.
With watchmaking experience acquired from the most prestigious watch manufacturers, René Bannwart began his professional adventure at Patek Philippe in 1933 before joining Omega in 1940, where he established the first creative department and launched watch models which still today remain the talking pieces of the brand. During his 15 years at Omega, he strengthened his expertise in watchmaking and with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a will to create his own watches, he founded Corum in 1955 with his uncle Gaston Ries. In 1958, he had his first success with the “Sans Heures” model where time was indicated only by the hands on the dial. In 1966, a new interpretation of this model is embodied within the Romvlvs model (today one of the 4 key pillar of Corum) whose hours in Roman numerals are engraved on the bezel.
René Bannwart known for his humanist and aesthetic values has been able to reach his ambition by creating a company that shines today in the constellation of Haute Horlogerie. He leaves behind him as much a reputation of beautiful human as that of a part of watchmaking history. Passionate and generous, he earned the trust and deep respect of his colleagues, clients and employees by building lasting friendships and sincere relationships.
True to the golden rule used in creation, he was known for his sense of detail and artistic qualities. The strong creativity instilled by René Bannwart to Corum, has been expressed throughout its history with many outstanding creations.
In 1958, launch of the Golden Tube model, a tube of gold in which the movement is inserted. This creation is behind the famous Golden Bridge model (1980), the first baguette movement that symbolizes the technical and watchmaking mastery of Corum and now part of the CORUM BRIDGES pillar.
In 1960, the first interpretation of the “Admiral’s Cup” model with a square case was developed. This was the first ever water-resistant square watch. In 1983, the famous Admiral’s Cup was reinterpreted in its emblematic design version (twelve-sided bezel, 12 nautical pennants) helping it to become the leading model of the brand.
In 1964, the “Coin Watch”, without a back cover, was created with an ultra-flat movement that is set in an authentic gold coin, a $20 Double Eagle Coin. The model has been worn by numerous U.S. Presidents and prominent civilians alike. A timepiece that sparkles in the ARTISANS collection.
Watchmaking history and watch aficionados will also remember the feathers dial (1970), the Rolls-Royce model (1976),pioneering the way to partnerships with prestigious car manufacturing brands, as well as the meteorite dials (1986) and the Tabogan watch (1997), whose ingenious mechanism allowed the watch to be turned into a table clock, and which has been patented.
In 2010, Corum celebrates its 55th anniversary and celebrates a half century of the Admiral’s Cup collection, whose iconic design was created by Rene’s son, Jean-René Bannwart; as well as 30 years of the Golden Bridge. This heritage, which was founded in the heart and skill of one man, René Bannwart, has provided to the brand with deep and solid roots and has been revived by its current CEO Antonio Calce, who has returned to the fundamental strategy of the brand since his arrival in 2005.
Antonio Calce, CEO of Corum, spoke of the human qualities and the talent of René Bannwart: “Today marks the end of a chapter for the Corum history. I have deep respect and admiration for René Bannwart, a man who wrote a chapter in the history of watchmaking and has created a brand with a strong credibility and legitimacy in creation while adding sophisticated technical and watchmaking content. Through his work, skill and motivation, René Bannwart brought Corum to the top of the watchmaking art in the 80’s. By instilling a powerful creative identity, he strongly anchored the brand DNA providing strong roots and enhancing its reputation. I am so honored to continue to lead Corum on the path of success and especially to develop its potential. The Wunderman family and the Corum family join me to convey their most sincere thoughts to his son Jean-René Bannwart and his wife Grischka, his family and loved ones”.