THE NUMBER OF watch companies on the market seems to increase every year, making it ever more difficult for brands to stand out from the pack. With its emphasis on stylish design, technical excellence and artistic touches, mixed in with a dash of fun, Corum remains one of the most distinctive of brands. This year it turns 50 and, in celebration, it has reinvented one of the most distinctive designs in its archive: the Golden Bridge. Developed in 1980, the watch featured a miniscule baguette movement arranged linearly along three solid-gold bridges that effectively suspended it across the centre of the watch. The Golden Bridge's birth date half way through the brand's history makes it the perfect choice for an anniversary edition. 'This is one of the great historical Corum pieces,' said Michael Wunderman, president of Corum. 'It is good for our branding, as it is a merging of the history of the brand with my style.' Unfortunately, its first incarnation was shortlived, as a design flaw meant it was easy to overwind the spring. The new model has undergone extensive redevelopment and the mechanism has been redesigned to incorporate a 'slipping spring system' that releases excess tension before it damages the movement. Finding the right technical partner was essential to the project's success, and Corum found that partner in Swiss watchmaker Vaucher. Although the new movement contained more moving parts and ended up being a fraction chunkier than the original, Mr Wunderman said it was a small sacrifice to pay for the extra reliability gained. 'It now has a 40-hour power reserve, as opposed to a 40-hour lifespan.' The new design, he said, is a mesh of technical beauty and exceptional design, the highlight of which is its level of transparency. Extra panels of sapphire glass windows mean the movement is visible not just from the front and rear, but also through windows in the sides of the case. 'I think it is going to be a real winner, both in terms of engineering and style,' Mr Wunderman said. 'The industry is dying for pieces like this, so the timing is perfect. So far, the response has been excellent.' It has been a year since Michael Wunderman took over the reins at Corum from his father, Severin Wunderman - a wiry Belgian-born American immigrant who rose to fame as the man behind Gucci Timepieces. The elder Wunderman bought Corum in January 2000. The younger Wunderman admitted that his first year at the top has had its challenges. 'My grey hairs are certainly more plentiful,' he said. 'But I've been working with my father for about 12 years now, and you couldn't ask for a better boss.' He said he had not and would not make any changes to the direction of the brand. Brand continuity was important, he said, and the company would continue to explore the darker side of watch design, adorning this year's versions of the highly prized Bubble watch with vampire bats and pirate emblems. 'Every year we have a fun time making these seriously fun watches,' Mr Wunderman said. 'As a brand, we have always had the courage to stick our neck on the line. 'We want to keep pushing it, and go to the extremes of the industry. Some people might call us heretics. 'We are the pirates of the watch industry - we are proud that we have the courage to do things other people won't.' The sense of individualism this has brought to Corum watches has allowed the brand to build up a loyal customer base. Mr Wunderman said the brand could alienate such customers if it went down the road of mass production. 'These collectors are very loyal to us. If we make too many watches, we may lose that loyalty,' he said.