Wondering How The Swiss Luxury Industry Will Handle Smartwatches? One Cheeky Watch Maker Proposes This Option

Wondering How The Swiss Luxury Industry Will Handle Smartwatches? One Cheeky Watch Maker Proposes This Option

Wondering How The Swiss Luxury Industry Will Handle Smartwatches? One Cheeky Watch Maker Proposes This Option Luxury Items

I've been close with Swiss watch designer Yvan Arpa for years, and I understand his particular blend of humor and unorthodox style. So with that said, his recent "announcement" about how he personally plans to benefit from the inevitable success of the Apple Watch (hands-on here) and other smartwatch devices, does not come as a particular surprise. Yvan Arpa cleverly sees a market in luxury smartwatch modification. See, for example, his mockups of a re-cased Apple Watch, in a novel solid gold case with loads of baguette-cut diamonds.

Stuff like this is rather easy to make fun of, but you know it is going to happen. Yvan Arpa is just being entrepreneurial about an expectant surge in smartwatch popularity, and what could possibly be Apple Watch dominance of the segment for at least a good while. Further, he is sending a message to his high-end clients that, "don't worry, we can still do business together, even if you'll want to wear an Apple Watch." If customers used to wearing lavish mechanical watches worry about losing their "exclusive edge" by choosing a mass produced Apple Watch, then perhaps there is a market for after-market Apple Watch customization. It seems entirely plausible, if not inevitable.

Wondering How The Swiss Luxury Industry Will Handle Smartwatches? One Cheeky Watch Maker Proposes This Option Luxury Items

One of the things I find fascinating, is that the the luxury industry is so deeply concerning themselves with the Apple Watch and smartwatch devices. Perhaps it is Apple's fault for knocking on their door, with the 18k gold Apple Watch Edition, or maybe, they just want to get in on new trends. I would have guessed that the luxury industry might wait a few years for the smartwatch industry to mature, before deeply concerning themselves. It isn't as if traditional luxury watch makers are suddenly going to develop software and electronics hardware. Their forte has always been about external design and materials.

Yvan Arpa has been responsible for a number of luxury watch ideas, that span from brilliant to just totally wacky - and that is why we love him. He currently runs his own brand ArtyA, and also Spero Lucem. Further, Arpa owns a small manufacture in Geneva, known as SC2, where he plans on headquartering a smartwatch customization service for select clients.

Wondering How The Swiss Luxury Industry Will Handle Smartwatches? One Cheeky Watch Maker Proposes This Option Luxury Items

Yvan Arpa's promise is to re-case items like the Apple Watch with more exclusive and luxurious cases. While it isn't yet known how easy it will be to remove the hardware inside of an Apple Watch and move it into another case, it is presumably doable. This concept art shows what might happen if Yvan gets his way. This idea offers a mocked-up Apple Watch with a custom gold case. According to Arpa, a case such as this would be produced from 150 grams of gold, and contain over eight carats of baguette-cut diamonds. Of course, at these levels, it is all about customization and bespoke work, so don't stop your imagination from going wild to dream up your ultimate luxury Apple Watch fantasy.

Yvan Arpa even muses on the fact that it is difficult to get traditional mechanical watches in Switzerland, suggesting that, perhaps, using smartwatch movements (hardware) might be a possible solution for smaller, more creative (and flexible) Swiss watch makers. This gold and diamond laden concept is as much a "what if" as it is a "we await the first order." Talk about making people feel like their gold Apple Watch Edition pieces aren't as exclusive any longer.

Wondering How The Swiss Luxury Industry Will Handle Smartwatches? One Cheeky Watch Maker Proposes This Option Luxury Items

Another important implication of something such as this, goes back to the notion that Apple and other smartwatch companies are keen to enter the luxury and fashion worlds as much as possible. A huge concern of Apple, is to offer enough Apple Watch variety, so that people don't feel as though they are all wearing similar items. At the top of the consumer ladder, customers are really focused on exclusivity. So, the idea of having an item "no one else has" is really important. An emerging smartwatch customization industry could deliver that, allowing people to enjoy the best of modern technology, with the status of luxury items they are used to enjoying. Companies such as Bamford and Project X already cater to people who want Rolex watches, but who want ones that have unique appearances.

How much will it cost to get a custom Apple Watch in the future? We don't even know the full price-range of the Apple Watch, but Yvan Arpa offers hints there, as well. According to him, customers looking for a bespoke Apple Watch wearing experience can expect to pay between 10,000 and 100,000 Swiss Francs. This particular model seen here (which, I believe, Yvan Arpa has affectionately called the "PineApple") is estimated to be valued at $65,000 - if it is even doable. I personally case wait to see how many cool and terrible ways people try to bling out the Apple Watch soon after its release in 2015. luxuryartpieces.com

  • DG Cayse

    …it couldn’t hurt!

  • LapYoda

    This idea seems crazy and stupid (c’mon, slathering disposable tech with gold and diamonds?!) yet will likely be a huge moneymaker for Arpa. There seems to be no shortage of people throwing huge sums of money at essentially ordinary wristwatches these days.  It’s enterprising.  Only catch is that he would be stuck taking care of warranty claims since it obviously wouldn’t be covered by Apple, but if you’re charging $65,000 for a $350 watch, who cares?

  • Twinbarrel

    Like LapYoda said, the second Iwatch will be different from the first release (and the next versions also) so you will own an ‘old’ watch very soon that can no longer be upgraded etc… We all buy the newer releases from Apple whenever it hits the market. Despite this….
    There is no doubt that Yvan will be able to capitalize hugely on this because ‘the market’ includes people with enough cash and don’t really care about concerns of the masses and will happily go see Yvan to make yet another lavish iwatch case.
    Mechanical watches are truly timeless as opposed to the disposable nature of the apple products.
    I say Yvan is very smart to make a name for himself at this very particular time. I wish you good fortune.
    Last thing: Will apple accept Yvan’s watch in exchange for a newer model or would it be decline due to ‘damaged goods’?

  • bama214

    Fundamentally, what’s different about this than the many mechanical watch brands that use generic ETA or Sellita movements?  I would venture that the majority of Swiss watch brands we all love do that, and a much smaller number have truly in-house (or even significantly modified) movements.

  • iamcalledryan

    lol – love it

  • bama214

    Twinbarrel Perhaps Apple will maintain the form factor of the “movement” portion of the smartwatch – if so, it may be a trivial matter to install the new version into an existing case.  This would help Apple sell their high-end gold cases, as well as help these third party customizers.

  • BigMike213

    I’ll take the strap in blue. That’s it.

  • thornwood36

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooo !

  • What people seem to miss is that a solid gold iWatch aims not at the discerning buyer, but at the celebrity or footballer.  Look, the diamond studded iPhone meets its wrist match!

  • Why “bling” a watch that will be outdated in a year ?

  • spiceballs

    Way to go Yvan , why not indeed 🙂

  • ChrisTiradoMX

    Remember the Vertu phones? I guess that’s where this is going… including the regular Apple watch

  • leicaman

    Not a chance this is going to happen. Any encroachment to the inside of the case is a loss of something. Most likely battery. Diamonds take up a lot of space. And the Apple watch is going to pack every square millimeter inside with parts.

  • mla

    I find the general idea attractive, but I find these designs…. meh.

  • Ulysses31

    Oh dear god…

  • CG

    Smart guy & Smart Watch… seems like a natural trend to me. What I’d like to see is an app for the watch for a face change to any high end Swiss watch that you may want to wear that day!

  • gadgety

    luxuryes It’s the ultimate conspicuous consumption.

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