Introducing The Magically Simple ArtyA Depth Gauge Dive Watch
This new ArtyA dive watch uses a colorful dial combined with a phenomenon known as selective absorption to tell you how deep under the water’s surface you are. It’s shocking that no one has done this before. Forget any special technology or last-minute, super-secret innovation. It’s just good old physics and natural laws. Well, and the never-sleeping creative genius Yvan Arpa. Meet the ArtyA Depth Gauge.
When I worked in advertising, brainstorming ideas for TV commercials was part of my daily responsibilities. It was fun. In the early days of my copywriting career, one brief came in. My creative partner and I worked on it for a few days, but we still couldn’t come up with anything special. The morning before the deadline, our creative director stormed into our office. “Guys, I woke up at 3:00 AM from a dream. In it, I just finished our TV commercial. Well, here it is,” he said as he threw a storyboard full of sketches on the table. And it won the campaign.
A dream watch, literally
I have never reached that creative level of ideating while sleeping. But I really believe it happens, so when I asked ArtyA founder Yvan Arpa where the idea came from, I didn’t laugh at his answer. “This idea of color disappearing with depth woke me up one night. Five hundred years of watchmaking, millions and millions of diver’s watches, and no one did it. We then worked on how to make it readable on a dial.“
I actually didn’t ask where the Depth Gauge idea came from. I asked Arpa if it was in any way inspired by one of the dearest watches in my collection, the Mido Decompression Timer from 1961, and I sent him a picture of the watch. Well, it was not. But, later, when I called Arpa, he jokingly admitted that I scared him a bit. He didn’t know the Mido watch and thought that the idea had been executed before. In fact, it had not. It was just a clumsy wording of my question. Mido used the color scheme to calculate decompression times after a dive. Arpa, however, used the colors in a different way. His Depth Gauge seems to be the first depth-measuring dial in the world.
Now comes the best part
I asked Arpa to tell me more about the technology behind it. He responded that as you dive deeper, the colors disappear gradually. I said that I understood what the watch did, but I wanted uncover how he made it happen. Well, he didn’t. Rather, it was all thanks to Mother Nature and physics. As a man who is scared to death of motorbikes and water, the concept of light penetration in an open ocean (or just water) simply didn’t come to my mind.
Generally speaking, color is perceived by the light that is reflected off of and/or absorbed by an object. Color is interpreted by receptors in our eyes, and it varies depending on the light’s wavelength, measured in nanometers, or “nm”. For example, light with a wavelength of around 700nm is perceived as red. A wavelength of around 400nm, on the other hand, would be interpreted as violet. The colors of the visible light spectrum are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Simple as that. If you follow the diagram above, you can understand how the Artya Depth Gauge works.
The Depth Gauge was made for divers, by a diver
Once I understood the concept, I had to ask Arpa the mandatory question of whether he tested his watch. I was surprised to learn that he is a passionate diver with more than 500 dives, and he tested the watch himself. He didn’t make it to 100 meters below sea level, “But believe me,” he said, “50 meters is deep enough.” I haven’t even been three meters underwater, but I believe it works. He didn’t tell me how many pre-production prototypes were made, but the ArtyA team had to “calibrate” the right color tones to get the Depth Gauge working ideally.
The angle on the watch creating
I reviewed the reissued Mido Decompression Timer with a black dial and, a year later, another one with a pearl dial. I looked at it and perceived it only as a final product, a watch that was “crying” to be reinterpreted. The original role model became one of my Mido grails, and it was only a matter of time before I got one. Looking at the brand’s product line, Mido is real machinery. I really don’t know how much of a real diving experience designers put into it.
Whether you take Mido or the new Breitling SuperOcean, there is a huge string of people involved before a final product comes to the light. This brings me to another pleasing point about Depth Gauge. ArtyA’s Yvan Arpa is a diver. He had a dream of making this creative yet sturdy watch, and he did it. You hardly can get as close to real watchmaking as what an independent watchmaker can offer. If I had a need for a dive watch and were willing to spend CHF 12,900 for it, the idea that Arpa created and used this watch himself would make me really excited.
What you get
When you consider a limited edition of 1,000 pieces to be a small run, you rather act quickly. Ordering an ArtyA watch, however, is not a process. Rather, it’s an experience. It’s mostly a face-to-face experience that includes a visit to Arpa’s studio. There will be only nine pieces with black and nine pieces with blue ceramic bezel inserts. The bezel itself is quite “organic”. “We wanted to have a completely different look. We went for an asymmetrical design in the shape of waves to keep the aquatic spirit while not reducing the grip,” Arpa explains. I haven’t tried it in person, but it looks very nice.
You should also check Sky’s recent piece about the ArtyA Wave. They share the same 44mm case, which was designed from scratch. I also asked Arpa about the updates to his COSC-certified movement that has Côtes de Genève and rose gold finishing. It was first launched in 2018, but since then, he says, “we have reworked it extensively. Recently, we have changed several components in order to start from a better base for the future development [that we have] planned of this movement.” The case back with a relief engraving of an open shark mouth is stunningly lively. It’s so expressive that I find it to be one of the best case backs out there today.
Last thoughts on the ArtyA Depth Gauge
I really like the ArtyA Depth Gauge. In a world where manufacturers race to bring the biggest innovation, Yvan Arpa drops the mic in the sea. The audible simplicity of his idea shuts the mouths of many watch designers while opening the mouths of potential customers.
There is only one massive objection I hold against it. For me, it’s the gargantuan 44mm case, which would drag me down to 100 meters so fast that I wouldn’t even see the color disappearing at all. But Arpa has an answer for that too. “You are the first worldwide to know — and you can announce it — that I will make the Depth Gauge in a 41mm case, and with a sapphire bezel.” Like you didn’t already have enough to think about, right?