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Rebel watchmaker, black belts and all.

ArtyA Watch Blog Presse New York Times

L'édition mondiale du New York Times - Felicia Cradock

ArtyA Watch Blog Press New York Times Gun Target Gold
ArtyA Watch Blog Presse New York Times Spero Lucem

La montre La Clémence, référence à la plus grande cloche de la cathédrale de Genève, de la marque Spero Lucem, dernière-née de la marque Yvan Arpa, à l'extrême gauche ; la collection Son of a Gun, à gauche, est particulièrement recherchée par les Russes.

Il existe peu de liens entre le monde des arts martiaux et celui de l'horlogerie traditionnelle, mais l'agent provocateur de l'industrie horlogère suisse, Yvan Arpa, n'a jamais été du genre à prêter attention à la tradition.

Inspirée en partie par ses huit mois de combat en tant que boxeur professionnel de Muay Thai à Bangkok en 1978, une époque où peu d'Occidentaux y concouraient, la gamme de montres ceinture noire de M. Arpa est disponible uniquement à ceux qui peuvent prouver qu'ils possèdent une ceinture noire. - une stipulation que certains clients potentiels ont tenté de contourner avec de faux certificats.

Black Belt Watches, créée en 2009, est la première des trois marques créées par M. Arpa depuis qu'il a quitté le côté plus établi d'une industrie dans laquelle il avait occupé plusieurs postes de haut niveau, notamment celui de directeur général de Hublot et de directeur général de Romain. Jérôme.

Au cours de son passage dans le secteur plus conventionnel de l'industrie, il a été l'architecte de plusieurs sorties « audacieuses » qui lui ont valu la réputation d'un « personnage assez controversé », selon Elizabeth Doerr, journaliste horlogère et auteur de « 12 Visages du temps : virtuoses de l'horlogerie. "Les sujets qu'il a choisis ont polarisé les gens", a-t-elle déclaré au téléphone. "Que vous les aimiez ou que vous les détestiez, ils ont fait beaucoup de buzz."

ArtyA Watch Blog Presse Ceinture noire du New York Times

La ligne de montres ceinture noire d'Yvan Arpa, inspirée en partie par son époque de boxeur professionnel à Bangkok, est disponible uniquement à ceux qui peuvent prouver qu'ils possèdent une ceinture noire, une stipulation que certains clients potentiels ont tenté de contourner avec de faux certificats.

Scheduled to be introduced at Baselworld this week, the third and latest addition to Mr. Arpa's own brands is Spero Lucem. This high-end line pays tribute to Mr. Arpa's home and the haven of traditional wachmaking: Geneva. It incorporates sections of the city's flag into its logo and takes an older variation of Geneva's Latin motto as its name.

The first two watches to be released in the range are La Clémence and La Jonction - references to Geneva's largest cathedral bell and the city's famous Jonction district, respectively. La Clémence is a 499,000 Swiss franc, or $536,000, flying tourbillon minute-repeater with an original twist. When the minute-repeater sounds the time, the watch's hands circle rapidly in opposite directions - a function Mr. Arpa has christened "crazy hands." La Jonction is a less ambitious though comparably high-end watch, including a flying tourbillon, jumping hours disc and retrograde minutes hand.

Both watches contain complications crafted by the former Patek Phillipe master watchmaker Pierre Favre, and arc, according to Mr. Arpa, at the level of the Poinçon de Genève - the city's stamp of excellence awarded only to watches that meet the highest of horological standards.

Though pleased with the watches, Mr. Arpa said during a recent interview that he had to curb his creative instincts during their design process to ensure that Spero Lucem remained a brand that "behaved according to the rules of the industry.".

"I suffered a lot doing this because I had so many crazy ideas,'' Mr. Arpa said.

"I had to respect the ancestral rules, for the bridge, the decoration, for the complication," he said. "I had many more ideas, and I had to refrain from using them, which is hard, it's like acting. But with this brand nobody can complain. Nobody can say it's too crazy."

Instead Mr. Arpa reserves his more unusual ideas for ArtyA - the second and most well-known of his brands and an arena in which he allows himself almost full creative freedom. Fom the release of ArtyA's first watch, a 12,000-Swiss franc timepiece made with coprolite - a substance more commonly known as fossilized dinosaur dung - Mr. Arpa has continued to experiment with a series of atypical materials. These have ranged from shredded euro bank notes to never-drying paint, spiders, a small scorpion and even his own blood.

His Son of a Gun collection, a range made with real bullets, has, he said, been particularly sought after by his Russian V.I.P. clients. One of them once arrived at Mr. Arpa's office accompanied by two bodyguards and a large dog to demand the watch he'd ordered online. Because the watch wasn't ready, Mr. Arpa recalls, he eventually lent the client a miniature gun and told him to fire it at his sofa. "My sofa was dead, but we took back the bullets and we made the watch," Mr. Arpa said. "He came to me and he took me in his arms, big arms, and he said 'Yvan, best shopping experience of my life!"'

''These watches are so emotional that they create many stories," he added. " That's what this brand is really about." The idea that he can give his clients something more than just a watch has remained central to Mr. Arpa's ArtyA philosophy. Every one of his pieces, he insists, is unique - each containing a dial that has been individually crafted by his artist-wife, Dominique Arpa Cirkpa, and each being sold with a certificate that outlines its origins and the details of its creation.

This level of individual attention is unusual within an industry often more concerned with quantity, and that attention has made the brand particularly attractive to a select group of collectors, said Yerly Bernard, owner of Yerly Bijouterie Optique in Geneva.

"A lot of people have a big collection of watches, but they always want special ones," Mr. Bernard said by telephone. ''This kind of watch is for particular customers. It's like an art product. It's not just a watch." It would seem that for Mr. Arpa, the artistic merit of his watches is more important than their functionality. ''Watches to tell the time-for me it's over," he said.

Watches, he believes, can function more as trophies - statements of the owner's values and achievements. This is an attitude, he said, that has not always sat well with an industry he describes as Calvinist and out of touch. He said that he has been involved in, and won, more than 35 court cases; he said that he took some of the court documents and burned them in a bonfire, incorporating the ashes into a watch he now keeps in his rarely seen Forbidden Collection. "Many people hate me because I make too much noise," he said. "But it's interesting to bring some philosophical ideas about time into the industry.'' "I don't say I'm right, but if we don't try to reinvent some rules, who can tell where the industry will be in two or three generations?''

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