Yvan Arpa, watchmaking’s agent provocateur, is at it again. After using metal from the Titanic, putting blood and bullets on a dial and working with Korean giant Samsung on smart phones, he is now partnering with Swiss luxury close-out site Qoqa.ch to create a new brand, Q&A (Qoqa and Arpa). The first series of watches is the Magma collection, limited to three watches and a total of 1,482 pieces (494 each).
Why 1,482 pieces? Because that is the temperature (in Centigrade) at which certain metals melt.
What does that have to do with Magma, you ask?
Well, the disruptive idea behind Magma is that Q&A purchased five new iconic Swiss watches, from Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Cartier and Omega, and melted them down, using the “magma” created to make the lateral plate of these new Swiss mechanical watches.
That’s right, Arpa melted these five, brand new luxury Swiss watches, in order to make the Magma collection.
“For me, this is the democratization of luxury,” says Arpa. “Most people will never be able to buy any of those iconic watches, but with Magma, they can have a little piece of each of them in their watch.”
The Magma watches — Magma Bronze, Magma Technic and Magma Classic, went on sale on Qoqa.ch at 00:01 today (December 11), and projections are that they will sell out within hours.
The price? CHF 990, for a Swiss made, mechanical, COSC-certified timepiece.
“The guys from Qoqa.ch came to see me to discuss what we could do together,” Arpa details. “I gave them several ideas and they chose the most extreme one, melting down iconic Swiss watches to create an affordable Swiss mechanical watch. I don’t see it as being destructive, it’s constructive — we are giving people access to luxury, high watchmaking.
I had lunch with Arpa at the UBS Bank headquarters in Geneva, where his brand Artya is having a major exhibition, a portion of it open to the public and the majority of it reserved for the best clients of UBS. The exhibition is over 1,000 square meters and will be open from now until the end of February.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to showcase the entire spectrum of Artya to a new customer base,” Arpa explains. “We are a niche brand, but we have a number of different collections. Usually, people see the Son of Sound guitar watch and that’s all they know, or they have seen the Son of a Gun bullet watch, but they don’t know the breadth of the collection. I am very fortunate to have such a showcase in such an important bank.”