Mathematics professor and a practicing martial artist, a seasoned adventurer crossing an exotic country by foot and a fearless madmen diving in the northern icehole. Yvan Arpa’s words are always too passionate and straightforward for a regular Swiss watchmaker. The some goes to ArtyA timepieces filled with real bullets or dinosaur’s excrements. You can either love or hate them, there is no way to stay unaffected.
Nothing is typical with any of my day, and that's the good news. I can wake up very early or very late, I love to make sport but as well as to read or to design or to think or to travel or just to marvel… The office is very close to my home, so no traffic jam, no headache. I just need to avoid negative vibrations and people and all is cool. As Gandhi said, the best day of your life should be today.
Where do you find your suppliers? If we need some dinosaurs' excrements, or butterfly wings, whom should we call first?
Sold out my friend! I bought them all! Just kidding of course. If you want something, you can get it. Sadly, nearly everything is for sale nowadays, just get out of the mould, think differently and don’t be afraid.
You travel a lot. Do you think an interest in timepieces can help people of different cultures understand each other?
Swiss watchmakers should be much more philosophical than commercial. Honestly, who needs an expensive watch today? The more expensive the watch costs, the less accurate it may be! An expensive car goes faster, an expensive house is more comfortable, etc. Nothing of this can be said about watches and you have the time everywhere – on your phone, computer or fridge…
What do you actually mean by being more philosophical?
If we look at the roots, the world “watch” means “watch me” or “watch what I wear”, “montre” in French means “show”. We are talking status symbol object, social modern tribal decoration. Moreover, time counts down the days left for us on this planet, so all this is very emotional and should be treated in a different way in order to better understand each other and the world around. My work hypothesis is that nobody really needs a watch anymore. So I decided to position ArtyA as a Masterpiece of Art, mostly in unique pieces or extremely limited series. As Hippocrates said “Life is short but Art is eternal”.
Who is your typical customer?
By chance our customers are all but typical. They are really interesting people, not the simple minds who just need to show off by buying expensive brand that they don’t even like. My customers are more complex, refined and independently minded free thinkers who choose for themselves. We become close friends quite often as we share the same values.
If you were to start from the beginning, what would your first timepiece look like?
If I would have to start from scratch I would love to test another industry, probably furniture as I have many ideas for that.
Do you consider yourself more an artist, an engineer or a businessperson?
Probably an artist. For me to create is much more important than to sell.
What part of watchmaking routine do you love most? Or is there anything you hate?
I hate every kind of routine and try to break them as much as possible.
Can you name any designers or watchmakers whose artistic views you could more or less call similar to your own?
Not really, instead I love most of them because they are different from me.
If you ever get a chance to design the whole world from scratch, how many days it will take, what would you need for the job and where will you start?
To answer this question, you must be so arrogant to think you can redo the work of God! I am probably arrogant but not that much. Just look at this planet, the fauna, the flora and all those incredible, fabulous, marvelous creations! For me it is a daily source of wonder and eternal respect, all I create is really nothing compared to that.
You are a well-known motorbike lover, what were the highest numbers to ever appear on your speedometer?
As a loving father I will remain silent, for this could be an excuse for my sons to do similar stupidities.
ArtyA is a family company. Do your kids participate?
Sometimes, but I want to keep them free. There is nothing worse than forcing your kids. They must come naturally or try anything else they love. Passion is the best engine and as I understand so far, they have different passions.
What is your most important achievement so far?
Balance & harmony in my family with my tortured soul to control on an hourly base.
You are one of the most flamboyant speakers in the watchmaking world. What is the most frequent question you've been asked?
What is your next watch? Probably it has been asked to much.
What question would you like to hear and nobody asks?
Why do so many people buy the same brands and why they spend so much to wear the same watch their enemies do? Does it mean they share the same values in life?