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Melted-down luxury watches become “luxury” watches....
Point of View

Melted-down luxury watches become “luxury” watches. Really?

Sunday, 17 December 2017
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

“The desire to learn is the key to understanding.”

“Thirty years in journalism are a powerful stimulant for curiosity”.

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3 min read

The e-commerce website QoQa, in conjunction with ArtyA founder Yvan Arpa, recently ran an offer of “luxury” watches. Each featured a plate made from five melted-down Fine Watches which, by some form of transfer, supposedly gives them identical status. A line customers were happy to believe.

“An extraordinary project”, “an exceptional Swiss watch”, “a bold idea whereby fire transforms matter into a new creation”, “the highest level of craftsmanship”… Pascal Meyer, alias Mr QoQa, chose exactly the words we expect to hear in reference to Fine Watchmaking when describing his latest exploit. He did, after all, put the whole idea together alongside a well-known figure in watchmaking circles, namely Yvan Arpa, founder of ArtyA, a deliberately iconoclast brand, and designer of the Gear S3 for Samsung. The aim of this new project: to produce a watch that corresponds to the QoQa ethos to offer a single item for purchase per day, in limited quantities and at rock-bottom prices.

Magma Technic © Q&A
Magma Technic © Q&A

Having thought long and hard about what their next offer could be, the two men came up with the singular idea of buying five iconic timepieces – an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, a Cartier, an Omega Speedmaster, a Patek Philippe Nautilus and a Rolex Daytona – and melting them down (a process witnessed by a notary) to obtain 1,482 plates, each inscribed with the words “Magma of Respect” and screwed to the cases of three 494-piece limited editions dubbed Magma Classic, Magma Bronze and Magma Technic. A hundred were set aside to retail at CHF 5,999, allowing QoQa to put the remainder up for sale at CHF 999.

Each to his own

The pair claim that because each of these watches carries a fragment of the five most iconic Swiss timepieces, they are the best way to “make these major creations available to hundreds of people and in doing so pay tribute to the guardians of time and to Swiss expertise”, and pride themselves on what they describe as an alliance of “creative verve and the expertise of fine watchmaking. Luxury and innovation.”

There is no such thing as a luxury watch by association. Any claim to the contrary shows little esteem for the end customer.

The question is whether this grandiloquent discourse has solid foundations. All we are told is that the movement is Swiss, COSC-certified and cased by hand. Which in all probability means a mass-produced calibre, parts of which have been mechanically circular-grained for the occasion, of the type found in the majority of entry-level watches. To consider that the addition of this “Magma of Respect” plate is sufficient for a Magma to have the same effect on its wearer as a Nautilus or a Royal Oak takes a certain amount of at best naivety and at worse duplicity. There is no such thing as a luxury watch by association. Any claim to the contrary shows little esteem for the end customer. Instead of a so-called luxury product parading as Fine Watchmaking, would this not have been time better spent creating a robust, accurate and reliable mechanical watch, sold as such at an affordable price. A product for which there is just as much demand. But Fine Watchmaking is a far more appealing concept – warranted or not.

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