One may not associate the concepts of ‘heritage’ and ‘lab’ with each other. However, it is this juxtaposition that inspires Corum to embody a disruptive and contemporary approach towards watchmaking. First created in late 2018, the Corum Lab collection focuses on establishing a dialogue between the past and the future, and two limited-edition creations were debuted then. This year, Corum unveils another two new additions to the Heritage Corum Lab 01 family, each limited to 99 pieces.
The latest Lab 01 models retain their distinctive barrel-shaped cases like their predecessors, but Corum has chosen to produce the cases for these new timepieces in Damascus steel- a first for the brand. Instantly recognizable by its wavy pattern, Damascus steel is a type of alloy well known to knife and sword makers. The history of ancient Damascus steel dates back to as early as the 4th century A.D., where the ancient city of Damascus was then well known for its weapon-makers and metallurgical prowess. Weapons made with this historical alloy were used by some of the most well-known warriors in the past, including the Crusaders.
Damascus steel is known for its exceptional hardness and resistance to shatter. Blades made from this material are sharper, stronger and more flexible than others. In ancient times, one was said to be able to slice through a strand of hair with a Damascus steel-sword in mid-air, and still have it remain extraordinarily sharp throughout the next few battles. However, the ancient art of producing this legendary alloy was a secret closely guarded by its makers, has been shrouded in mystery over the years. It is said that to date, no one has actually succeeded in uncovering the actual know-how behind ancient Damascus steel.
However, technological advancements have enabled metallurgists to reproduce modern-day Damascus steel that has characteristics very similar to its ancestors. The usage of Damascus steel serves as a nod to history, while the futuristic design of the Lab 01 embraces the experimental and modernistic approach to watchmaking that Corum stands for.
The Heritage Corum Lab 01 Damascus timepieces are driven by the calibre CO 410, a curved, barrel-shaped skeleton movement that has been designed specifically to fit the case. The dial is accented with blue or green details; and on both sides of the case, are rubber inserts in the same colour. The signature Corum micro-rotor visible beneath the sapphire crystal has been finished with a contemporary spiral effect, which in itself is visually stunning when it begins to rotate.
The Damascus steel case is given black DLC-treatment, while the movement is also given Cotes de Genève finishing and offers a 50-hour power reserve. The hour and minute hands are filled with Superluminova in the same colour as the rubber inserts to enhance their legibility against the dark-coloured background. The fact one is unable to predict how the wavy patterns on Damascus steel will turn out during the forging process also means that every watch case will have a unique pattern like no other.