Double trouble: Nicolas Le Moigne rethinks the Corum ’Bubble’ watch

 ’Bubble’ watch
Throwback psychedelic illusions and pop art are among the aesthetic inspirations behind the all new Corum ’Bubble’ watch, conceived by industrial designer Nicolas Le Moigne
(Image credit: Nicolas Le Moigne)

First released in 2000, Corum's 'Bubble' marked a fun moment in watchmaking; oversized, with an extra-large sapphire crystal dome, the radical design heralded a major modern moment for the brand. Now, the original concept has been updated by industrial designer Nicolas Le Moigne, who has designed two new 'Bubble' pieces as part of the brand's Op Art series.

Op art – or 'optical art', the form created by Hungarian artist Victor Vasarely – is celebrated for its ability to produce static patterns that seem to move, disorientating the observer by hinting at different perspectives that lay underneath the immediately obvious. The new pieces remain faithful to the original 'Bubble', with an 8mm sapphire crystal that acts as a lens, working to both magnify and distort the dial, fracturing light.

Le Moigne was inspired by key pop art artists when working on his designs, and Vassarely and François Morellet's abstract pieces are the perfect foil for his skilfully technical and voluminous drawings. ‘Technically, it is possible to play with only 1mm of depth but thanks to the visual elements, I was able to really bring this 3rd dimension,’ he says.

The first of the two automatic pieces, the 'Bubble Sphere2', creates the illusion of a whole sphere by printing lines that traverse the dial directly onto the glass. The second plays on light and shadow, working on the grooves in the design to create a landscape that appears to be full of different heights, as undulating as a body of water – hence its name, the 'Bubble Drop'.

‘Ensuring all the lines and colours fit together so the visual illusion would work was a challenge,’ Le Moigne admits, but there is no hint of this in the exuberant end result. ‘The project,' he concludes, 'was meant to be surprising and playful.’

Original sketches

Original sketches (pictured here) show how the designs evolved. The original ’Bubble’ concept, released in 2000, marked a creative high point for the Corum brand

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Le Moigne has drawn upon Hungarian op artist Victor Vasarely for inspiration.

Le Moigne has drawn upon Hungarian op artist Victor Vasarely for inspiration. Vasarely famously created patterns that seem to move around the page

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Le Moigne uses this technique to create a sense of depth

Le Moigne uses this technique to create a sense of depth, despite the ’Bubble’ being just 8mm thick

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The first ’Bubble’ model

Despite these new pop/op art influences, Le Moigne remains faithful to the traditional Corum design, so as not to detract from the cult success of the first ’Bubble’ model

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Le Moigne

Le Moigne (pictured here) told Wallpaper*, ‘the project was meant to be surprising and playful’.

(Image credit: Lionel Henriod)


For more information, visit Corum’s website

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.