The image of a human skull is most commonly related to death and mortality. Yet when expressed in literature or other various forms of art, it need not seem as morbid as what most people perceive of it. A good example is Vanitas, a common art genre in 16th and 17th century Netherlandish art. Symbolic still-life paintings of skulls, withered flowers and decaying fruit depict the transience of life and certainty of death, but never without a touch of romanticism. The relationship between time and mortality has often been used as an inspiration behind dial imagery on watches, with skull imagery serving as a form of ‘memento mori’.
In the 2000s, Corum released the Classical Vanitas, a limited edition of 50 round watches whose dials had images of skulls and flowers. These intricate dials were painstakingly handcrafted using delicate stone and marble marquetry. They were also some of the first timepieces in the world to have dials featuring marquetry work.
Corum began decorating their timepieces with enamel from as early as the 1980s. This year, Corum revisits the success of the Classical Vanitas with the Heritage Artisans collection, featuring 3 models with different Vanitas-themed dial designs. Each of them features individually hand-painted finishes, with a black enamel dial serving as the canvas. Unlike the earlier Classical Vanitas, the new Heritage Artisans collection is not a limited edition, though production quantity is restricted due to its complexity and time required to craft each timepiece.
Each Heritage Artisans watch is housed in a 39mm diameter stainless steel case paired with white or red alligator straps. It is water resistant up to 50 meters, and powered by the CO 110 automatic movement featuring 42 hours of power reserve. Complementing the intricately hand-painted dials, are but a two minimalist dauphine-style hands, indicating the hours and minutes. The case back is open, from which one can see the movement with the specially-decorated rotor unique to Corum.