Horological Sovereignty in a Digital World
In 2004, the world witnessed the sale of an ‘authenticated’ air guitar on e-bay for $5.50, marketed as “a prized possession from the 80s”. We all laughed at the asinine transaction; however, the gentleman had his finger on the pulse about the future of commerce. For the well-versed technophiles, cryptocurrency and NFTs are old news; still, for those of us late adopters trying to comprehend our inevitable ascent into the metaverse, the concept can seem indecipherable.
Now that cryptocurrencies have become somewhat mainstream, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) have been heralded as the new investment on the crypto-block since 2020. Often likened to skins in video games where players can individualize their online personas, NFT art is meant to decorate your proverbial walls in a simulated world, a future where luxuries live on blockchains with no physical exchange of hands.
The benefit of NFTs, unlike other cryptocurrencies, is that it is non-fungible making them unique and verifying its authenticity. It cannot be exchanged or substituted for other crypto-assets, just like one cannot substitute the original Mona Lisa. Instrumental for digital creators, NFTs exist as a string of letters and numbers saved in a blockchain ledger containing information such as the original creator, the buyer, and the time of sale. Consequently, terms can be set for NFTS where the digital artist receives a percentage upon each resale.
While only the surface has been scratched, NFTs have been fetching figures in the millions at auction houses, drawing the attention of the watch industry. In a world where the internet connection is the limit, here are ways horology is forging its niche in the crypto-sphere.
Virtual Watch Prints
Enraptured by the endless possibilities of NFT marketplaces, Jean Claude Biver sold a digital photograph of the prototype Hublot Bigger Bang All Black Tourbillon Chronograph from his private collection on March 30 of this year. A pioneer in both physical and virtual realms, the former CEO of TAG Heuer called this ‘a start of something great’ prophesizing the industry’s venture into the metaverse.
Soon after, Jacob & Co followed suit with a 3D animation inspired by the Epic SF24 Travel Watch, which sold for approximately $100,000, allowing serious collectors to expand their horizons digitally.
A Safe Haven
For an industry where provenance and traceability are the bedrock of the resale value, ‘digital passports’ prove a very fruitful tool for registering a unique token for every SKU. Many brands have jumped on the bandwagon, issuing a digital double with all sales of physical watches to track throughout its lifecycle. Arianee, an independent organization whose mandate is to establish cryptographic governance and design a global standard for digital certification, has attracted Breitling, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet in the consortium.
While there are many crusaders against a virtual simulation, digital watches are well within reach freeing watchmakers from Newtonian constraints and pushing the boundaries of creativity. People can diversify their investments and build a virtual collection of rare digital watches, where maybe someday, their Fortnite character can rock a 1/1 Rolex Daytona that shoots laser beams in battle.
If you enjoyed this article, crypto will be discussed at length during this year’s Horology Forum at Dubai Watch Week 2021. Follow us on Instagram for updates.
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