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The luxury watch market and NFTs

We wouldn’t usually write on such a niche topic but this comparison between the luxury watch industry and NFTs is particularly interesting. According to various reports the exceptionally traditional industry of luxury watches has been all but uprooted by the sensational upswing in the popularity of blockchain technology and NFTs over the last couple of years…

Back in 2021, high-end jeweller and watchmaker Jacob & Co tested the waters with a ten-second animation of their SF24 Tourbillon model, a timepiece limited to 101 copies and valued at around $230,000 on the secondary market. Flanked with other exclusive privileges such as a private dinner with the company’s CEO and the chance to get involved with the next collection, the NFT fetched a respectable $100,000 at auction on the ArtGrails platform. The news naturally made waves in the watch community, with many attributing the crossover to a passing fad or even a cash grab (as was the majority assumption in 2021 when it came to NFTs). 

Moving forward a year to the end of 2022, Jacob & Co. followed up with an entire collection of luxury watch NFTs, this time with a more tailored approach. Eight extravagant designs in their Astronomia Metaverso series, five come with a tangible watch, while the remaining three are reserved exclusively for the crypto sphere.

While Jacob & Co is a respectable and established brand, they are better known for their pioneering spirit and elaborate watch designs; it would be inaccurate to classify them as a traditional watchmaking brand. With this in mind, there are definitely some big names in traditional Swiss watchmaking who have tried their hand at digitising their creations. For example, Breitling provides an NFT with each watch purchased as a form of proof of ownership and authenticity. This also suggests that such technology might replace the original papers that typically come with expensive watches, and which are crucial for determining resale value. TAG Heuer, on the other hand, has taken a bolder approach and created a smartwatch that allows the wearer to display their NFT artwork on their wrist.

The king of the luxury watch, Rolex, also revealed in a press release at the start of December 2022 that it will be certifying and selling pre-owned watches for the first time in the company’s history. Could this be the dawn of a new era for the industry giant?

Yet with this exciting news in mind, both cryptocurrencies and the secondary market for luxury watches slumped in mid-2022, and the buyer sentiment is one of caution. We’re excited to see the year ahead. 

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