Let’s talk about weird. There is a good weird, and there is certainly bad weird. Which category any particular “weird” falls into it highly subjective. On most accords this watch is weird. I mean look at it? It is unlike almost everything else out there. A one of a kind creation by Yvan Arpa’s Artya brand, this watch belongs to the “Coup de foudre” collection which is an ongoing series of watches that have “lightning struck” cases – hence the “Tesla” part of the name. Basically, Yvan’s shop employs the use of a large Tesla coil array. Electricity (which is basically lightning) travels between the two coils and the watch case is stuck in the middle. These pieces undergo wild transformative effects aided by artists who help engrave and colorize the metal. A lot of the cases that undergo this treatment are unusable, but the ones that survive are pretty interesting. Again, “interesting” if you can follow suit with that type of thing.
Artya employs two teams of people in their workshop. One team are artists and the other team are watch makers. The two work together to create “watch art.” A sort of game that is played with mechanical movements and dials. The Tesla collection plays with the idea of electronic componentry and mixes it with the design. Expressionist art at its finest, you have a purely mechanical watch with inert electronic parts as decorative elements. Note the uses of copper wire coils, and various capacitors. Please not that I used the image of the back of the watch as a reference. This is not the rear of this specific timepiece, but a sister watch in the collection. I use it to show the “Quadri Rotor” part of the design.
The base movement is an ETA 2671 automatic. It has a modified rotor that has three other mini rotors on it that spin around leisurely. The rotors have tiny copper wire wrappings on them. They spin around for the sake of added fun to the movement. On the dial of this Artya Tesla Squelette Quadri Rotor (by the way, “squelette” means “skeleton”) are Artya style hands (look at the little copper wires in the hands) and a tapestry of copper wires arranged to look organic, symmetrical. The copper color looks rick compared to acid colored elements of the case. In the middle of the watch over the movement are hand-applied pieces of gold-leaf. In fact, this was is all hand-done, and again, is one of a kind. All Artya watches are one of a kind.
In a 47mm wide steel case with a sapphire crystal on the front and back, these are large watches. They are made to be highly visible wrist watch art – but ones that still serve as timepieces. Yvan loves using his “crazy frog” straps. These are actually watch straps made of Cane Toad skin. You can also opt for a rubber or “Alzavel water resistant leather strap, if the amphibian skin doesn’t appeal to you. Though I say, if you are getting an Artya watch, you should get one as Mr. Arpa prefers it. And he himself does wear these watches. Not only that, but he pulls them off quite well.
Bespoke watches are really in. The idea that someone makes something special to your specifications. While this is appealing, the exact opposite is appealing as well. That is, watches which are direct expressions of art by a watch maker or artist – made by them, the way they want them made. While Artya timepieces might not match your tastes, art lovers can appreciate the emotion and skill behind them. They are good art, and the passion from the people at the brand comes through in the designs.
If it wasn’t for what I know about how these watches are made, the quasi-crazy uninhibited genius of Yvan Arpa, and how difficult it is to be different in the watch world, I might not appreciate these watches as much as I do. Not all Artya watches appeal to me, but ones like this which are a pure and satisfying expression of the aesthetic that they are tying to pull off, are richly expressive pieces of wearable art that I can quickly and easily appreciate. In the flesh these watches are much more impressive, especially models like with Tesla Squelette Quadri Rotor. Further, it is rare to find artists who work directly with watch makers to produce oddities such as this.
From a value perspective, these aren’t too bad for a one of a kind hand-made item. This, and other watches in this collection go for 6,900 Swiss Francs (about that in US dollars). Big and certainly bold, these ultra weird watches are going to delight some, and certainly alienate others. Are you the type of watch lover that can stand behind what Artya delivers? I think I just might be.