Worldtempus - 20 August 2010
Elizabeth Doerr and Louis Nardin
Yvan Arpa first became known to a wider watch audience with his attention-getting reinterpretation of the boutique brand Romain Jerome. It was here he proved his mettle as one of the more audacious and creative minds of the contemporary Swiss watch industry. Following his unexpected departure one year ago, Arpa founded the unique Artya concept and has designed some outstandingly crazy pieces for Volna. As of August 1, Arpa was named COO for Jacob & Co., a brand that has also created some breathtakingly different examples of high watchmaking in the past five years.
The Quenttin was the landmark timepiece heading Jacob & Co. toward acceptance among collectors © Jacob & Co.
Jacob Arabov (who prefers to be known as Jacob Arabo, though Americans tend to recognize him as “Jacob the Jeweler”) and his team entered the luxury watchmaking arena with one well thought-out and executed design: the Five Time Zone collection. This in-your-face 47 mm timepiece kicked off a distinct trend during the mechanical boom years of the early to mid-2000s with bold, colorful dials and straps and—naturally—gemstones.
“I didn't head right for the watch industry because is so difficult to get into,” Arabo explains of his path to timepieces through the jewelry industry. “It's such a closed industry; they don't let any new people come in. I was a designer, and it was easier to get product designed and sold.” To enter the high-end watch market, Arabo enlisted the help of a major behind-the-scenes veteran: Claude Sanz of Bunter. It was Sanz in conjunction with Arabo that conceived and manufactured some of the most talked-about pieces of the last ten years—such as the Quenttin, which boasts a 31-day power reserve and a vertical tourbillon that seems disconnected from the rest of the movement.
“My objective is to solidly anchor Jacob & Co. in the universe of high watchmaking,” Arpa told Worldtempus, while emphatically confirming that the company plans to continue working with Sanz at Bunter. Since BNB is no longer an option for movements, the company will now use one of Arpa's favorite suppliers, Concepto, for the technical insides. Have Arpa and Jacob already cooked up something new to wow the waiting watch world at Baselworld 2011? “An atomic bomb, baby!” Arpa laughs. “I have a lot of ideas, just need to check their feasibility now.”