[INTERVIEW] Between passion and provocation, Yvan Arpa shakes up the world of Swiss watchmaking

At the Watches & Wonders Swiss Watch Show, held from April 9 to 15 at Geneva’s Palexpo, Luxus Plus had the opportunity to meet Yvan Arpa, the Swiss watch designer and founder of the ArtyA brand. Often described as a phenomenon in the watch industry, the designer launched his latest collection, Purity. Interview.


Yvan Arpa, you are the founder of the Swiss watch brand ArtyA. What is your background?


I started my career as a math teacher, but I stopped teaching to go into design. I wanted to change direction and decided to go into the endemic Swiss industry, specifically watchmaking.


It’s an extraordinary sector. Nobody needs a watch, but most people wear them. Today, it’s a great male tribal symbol, a symbol of belonging, of status. It’s a content of emotion rationalized by mechanics. It’s also art, history. There are so many creative possibilities.


Would it be fair to say that you make watchmaking creations?


Watchmaking is a world of creation, even if we’re all dressed like bankers. That revolted me when I first came into the industry. Here, there are leaders who use powerful marketing tools that work extremely well. Most of them are marketers, rarely passionate about the product. The spirit of creation, hard work and passion is often lost.


ArtyA, Purity Tourbillon


For my part, I’ve made a lot of very provocative objects, which is a bit like the “Madonna strategy”. You know, she was first criticized for her provocative music before becoming a commercial success.


Did you break watchmaking codes as soon as you entered the market?


Yes, but not because I wanted to. It’s my style, I didn’t force myself. There were also budgetary reasons. It was easier for me to create something with my own hands from A to Z, rather than develop high complications with teams that had to be financed. It was quite artisanal.


How was your ArtyA brand born in 2009?


It was a combination of factors and a desire for creative independence. At the time, I had dozens of lawsuits, all my accounts were frozen, I was living on potatoes… I had no money. I had to do something, and this was the only thing I knew how to do.


First of all, I created a watch brand linked to martial arts, Black Belt Watch. I did a lot of competitions at one time. I wanted to make a watch that you could only buy if you were a black belt, which represents 17 million people worldwide. It was financeable because it was a unique model, but the market was niche.


Today, you are exhibiting at Watches & Wonders, the world’s finest watch fair. Is this a great success?


Of course, but ego is not an interesting driving force. There are healthier values than that. And yet, I’m sure that ego is the main driving force behind the personalities who have left their mark on the watchmaking world. At least, in the beginning, it must be, because it’s a time when you have to develop extraordinary energy. You can’t spit on ego, everyone has it, but feeding on it and gargling with it is not sustainable.


At Watches & Wonders 2024, the public was able to discover ArtyA’s latest creations. Why are your creations quite different from what you’re used to doing this year?


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Featured photo : © ArtyA

Picture of Claire Domergue
Claire Domergue

Founder and director of the publication Luxus +, Claire Domergue is a specialist in luxury marketing. Before founding the news media specializing in the luxury economy, Claire Domergue worked for more than seven years in the field of communication for the big names in the sector.

Picture of Hugues Reydellet
Hugues Reydellet

Hugues Reydellet is a young and passionate journalist whose favorite subjects are economy, culture, gastronomy, but also cars, and sports. With a sharp pen and an insatiable curiosity, Hugues is constantly on the lookout for new hot information to report.

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