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ArtyA - Exclusive: ArtyA on Trial!

ArtyA Exclusive: ArtyA on Trial!

This is the third episode of our “On Trial” series, where we invite watch brands to answer for their past decisions. After Ralf Tech and Eberhard & Co, we invite Yvan Arpa, founder of ArtyA, to take the stand

Yvan Arpa, you stand accused of flitting between your various brands, projects and collaborations: ArtyA, Black Belt, Samsung, Spero Lucem and many others. How do you plead?
Guilty, and proud of it! We’re all actors, and life is too short to stick to just one role. Living means taking up space and being authentic. For me, that’s a creative necessity, but also a personal one. I don’t have a family fortune, I’ve no inheritance to look forward to. I’ve built everything myself. I’ve created my own freedom, and these collaborations and commissions were a part of that. ArtyA’s only shareholders are my wife Dominique and myself. I started out with debts and court cases, rather than cash injections, and it wasn’t easy! It took a huge amount of effort, and a lot of work, but that was the cost of freedom. I could very easily have chosen to do Black Belt with my black belted friends and remain there for 30 years, but that didn’t interest me. I have no desire to live in my comfort zone. 

Yvan Arpa, you stand accused of having used and abused provocation and shock tactics throughout your early years. How do you plead?
Guilty! That was my plan; it was almost a mathematical necessity. What else could I do? How can you get people talking about you when you haven’t got the clout of LVMH or Rolex? You have to be clever and find different ways of making your voice heard. And in any case, provocation suits me. It has brought me notoriety and visibility. It’s a deliberate choice and I take full ownership of it, particularly as I wanted to shake the industry out of its “daddy’s watch” mentality. Don’t get me wrong: your dad’s watch might be amazing; but you also have to provide alternative paths that can move things along. We wear these extremely emotional objects on our wrists. Some of the shock tactics I’ve used have won over clients who previously had no interest in watchmaking. So yes, guilty as charged, and glad of it. 

Exclusive: ArtyA on Trial!

Yvan Arpa © ArtyA

Yvan Arpa, you stand accused of having built almost all your initial collections around a single case. How do you plead?
Guilty, but what are you supposed to do when you don’t have millions to launch your brand? In the beginning, the idea was to offer a single product, with a single case that would come in different variants. Then, when I had enough money, I’d create other shapes, other diameters. Today we have 15 different cases, offered in several diameters, along with a range of materials including sapphire, gold and titanium. But first, we needed money. So yes, guilty… of taking things one step at a time. Every centime I earned, I reinvested in the brand. 

Yvan Arpa, you stand accused of openly criticising a system from which you make a very good living. How do you plead?
Not guilty! What I’m critical of is a lack of authenticity and creativity. A lack of authenticity is claiming you’ve designed a new collection yourself, when in fact you relied on the talents of an outside designer. Lack of creativity is a different matter: it’s living in the past and going round in circles. That used to make me angry, but now I just think it’s sad. Limiting yourself to constantly going over the same ground is a bit pathetic. 

Exclusive: ArtyA on Trial!

Yvan Arpa © ArtyA

Yvan Arpa, you stand accused of not being committed to sustainable development, an obligation of our time. How do you plead?
Not guilty! I just don’t share certain publicly held positions. I don’t see what’s wrong with offering calfskin straps, for example. We need to stop the hypocrisy. When a client comes into my shop wearing a fancy leather jacket, but demands a strap made from pineapple, it’s grotesque. Internally, we are very careful not to use any pewter, mercury or lead. We’ve offered recycled straps for a long time. Should I talk about this more? Perhaps. But I value my freedom, and particularly my freedom to ignore the political correctness police. 

Yvan Arpa, you stand accused of offering a plethora of references spread over 21 collections. How do you plead?
Oh, is that all? I thought it would be worse (laughs)! Not guilty! ArtyA is a universe. If a client is honest, he can always find something he likes in our range. It’s a lifestyle. I’m not a mono-concept designer. I want everyone to be able to find a watch they like in my world. When an invention works well, that’s great, but my true joy is creation. 

Yvan Arpa, you stand accused of sleeping with the enemy, a Korean smartwatch manufacturer [Yvan Arpa was commissioned by Samsung to redesign the Galaxy Gear S3]
Guilty as charged, and glad of it. Why do we always have to fight each other? There’s no antagonism between mechanical watches and smartwatches. There’s room for everyone. Some people only have 200 francs to spend on a watch. Why not let them have one? 

Yes, but as they say, you only have one wrist, and if it’s got a smartwatch on it, there’s no room for a Swiss watch.
We’ve also only got one body. Are you telling me you only have one shirt? 


Lecture 1 Comment(s)

19 November 2022
Nicolas Li
A savoir: yvan arpa est aussi responsable pour le succes de la marque sector dans les annees 90, la realisation du produit phare hublot "big bang", et pour le succes de romain jerome. c'est un des plus grands talents dans l'industrie horlogere suisse. qui d'autre a pu realiser autant en commencant avec rien?

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ArtyA is an independent brand that encapsulates the creativity and free spirit of its founder Yvan Arpa. Complicated, atypical, sometimes rebellious, always innovative, ArtyA’s horological style has proved to be a pillar of Geneva’s creative watchmaking scene for over a decade now.

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