Prestige issue 291, Jul-Aug-Sept. 2018
Since 1955, Corum has considered creativity and daring designs as cardinal values. The brand continues the path established by its founders, remaining more than ever loyal to iconic collections while enriching them with a modern and powerful touch, full of innovation and technical progress. Continuity and longevity of the collections are not idle words at Corum: the Admiral collection has been sailing the seas for 50 years, while the Bridges collection has stood out for more than 30 years in the world of watchmaking. More than ever, history is taking place at Corum. Prestige met in Basel Jérôme Biard, Corum’s new CEO.
«Corum is a symbol of boldness and creativity»
When did you become CEO of the brand? I have been in this position for one year. I met with the management committee to define the main lines of the strategy, and I started to be operational in September 2017.
Can you tell us about your background before joining Corum? I have always worked in the watchmaking industry. I started my professional career as Area Brand Manager for Vacheron Constantin, than I was responsible for sales and marketing at Cartier before joining Girard-Perregaux in 2005 and working with Luigi Maccaluso as international director of Sales. In 2009 I was appointed Managing Director of LPI, the watches and jewelery division of the Weitnauer Group, a Swiss watch, luxury and lifestyle distribution company serving the Russian, Turkish and Brazilian markets. In September 2017 I became the director of the watch division on the board of directors of Hong Kong’s Citychamp group, taking responsibility for the brands Eterna and Corum.
What’s your nationality? I was born in France, but I have dual Swiss and French nationality. My father worked in Basel at Sandoz, he was engineer. He came to Switzerland for just two years, and stayed there. I feel more Swiss than French.
Do you think that having been in contact with international customers is useful for the development of the brand? Of course. I want people working on the development of the brand to travel more and leave La Chaux-de-Fonds, to understand what is happening elsewhere. We will realize series for countries, for retailers, so that at the time of the Internet there is less globalization. Luxury is synonym of rarity.
Who is responsible for design at Corum? We have a very good designer trained in jewelry. I show you a model that will be released next year. Impressed by the Haute Couture 2018-2019 collection including embroidery, our designer has created a rectangular case, a little rounded, with a large enough width to insert large diamonds. We will make cases with set stones, flowers, colors, precious stones, declined in abundance for unique varied jewels, with different shapes. To speak of Corum, it is to evoke original pieces, Crafts of Art. Among the iconic creations of the collection, we have the Coin, a $ 20 gold coin. An incredible Russian artist, who is the best engraver in the world, has made unique works on this piece of 20 dollars, which are completely in tune with the times and that please, which proves our expertise and originality. In terms of products, we will try to be always more innovative, elegant, refined. Many things have changed, our advertising campaign will focus on the diversity of our clientele. We want to shock in an original way. For example, the photographer Juliette Jourdain, who makes up characters in an original way, and creates art photos is a friend of the brand, she participated with us in an edition of the Bubble. Our aim is to reach a very diverse clientele.
I noticed that the Bubble, iconic watch of the brand is declined in a sublime variation, each piece being different from the other, can you tell us about it? The Bubble is part of the brand’s DNA, even though it has disappeared for a period. Being extremely creative, daring and different is also part of the brand’s DNA.
Is that why you created a watch with a controversial artist, like French rapper Booba? We did it to show that our customers are all different, because this rapper is also a talented man. We like to show that our creations are so different. Among our collaborations with artists are Joachim Horsley, composer and pianist with whom we have established a partnership for the Golden Bridge. We felt he was an ideal partner to represent us. Our partnership was launched during an evening at the Folies Bergères. On the occasion of the first European concert of Joachim Horsley, a special edition was created for him, whose case was made by Reuge; a music box that plays his scores. It is a different collaboration, marked by a certain elegance.
In the past, you used the wood for some models … We used Tek, it is rather consistent with the image of the brand. This is legitimate compared to the sailing world to which Admiral is in accordance. Again, it proves that we are daring, because it is not easy to stabilize the wood. With our four poles: Admiral, Golden Bridge, Bubble, Heritage, it’s easy to recognize a Corum watch. Few brands have so many easily identifiable products by far. Interview in Basel by MARCELLE NADIM