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June 26, 2008updated Feb 08, 2013

Swiss Watchmaker Corum Chairman Severin Wunderman Passes Away in Europe

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Severin Wunderman, the chairman and owner of Montres Corum, maker of Swiss Corum watches, died in Europe, Elite Traveler has learned.

Wunderman was a leading figure in the Swiss watch industry, first with the license for Gucci watches which he sold back to the company, and until his death owner of Corum which he bought and repositioned into the luxury watch segment.

Wunderman was known for his philanthropy and in 2004, the President of the French Republic, Jacques Chirac, raised Wunderman to the level of Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of honor. The medal was given to him on June 17, 2005 in Paris, in the salons of the Minister of Culture and Communication, by his Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres.

According to his biography, Wunderman was born in Belgium in 1938, he was forced during the second World War to seek exile in the United States, where he later became an American citizen. Thanks to his exceptional adaptive qualities, he became very successful in the business world. From his youth, when he was just an apprentice watchmaker, he was attracted by art and culture and showed a certain taste for the works of Jean Cocteau – a taste that would later be confirmed after a meeting with the artist’s heir, Edouard Dermit.

With Steven Spielberg, he founded “The Severin Wunderman Collection of Child Survivor Testimonies from the holocaust: The children speak to children”. At the same time, he realized a dream: create a Cocteau Museum, the “Severin Wunderman Family Museum”, situated in Orange County.

“The entire family of Elite Traveler is saddened by this news,” said Douglas Gollan, president and Editor-in-Chief of Elite Traveler. “Mr. Wunderman’s purchase of Corum came at a similar time to our launch of Elite Traveler in 2001, and he was an early supporter of our business. His creativity and business acumen always stood out, and he will be greatly missed by ourselves and his many friends. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”

The family could not be reached for comment.

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