The luxury watch industry is uniquely positioned to embrace the culture of rare limited editions and NFTs, as the watch collection has millions of fans worldwide. So where should luxury watch brands turn next?
The demand for high-end watches has increased since the start of the pandemic as people have taken the time to research watches and consider them a valuable asset class. The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported that in 2021, exports of watches costing more than $3,200 grew the most of all watch categories, increasing by 14.8% compared to 2019. The situation has made luxury watches rare, with traditional stalwarts like the Rolex and Audemars Piguet currently unavailable, even through their famously long waiting lists in dedicated stores. Physical watches are usually kept as trophy investments, but NFT watches can have a variety of uses, ranging from wearing in the metaverse to keeping in inventories of NFT art collections.
The growing interest in fine watches has also extended to the second-hand market, with shortages in the primary market driving sales growth among resellers including eBay, nimble startups and individual collectors. McKinsey estimates that pre-owned watch sales reached $18 billion in 2019 and could exceed $30 billion by 2025. With the unexpected growth during the pandemic, many watch brands are taking the time to innovate and develop the next chapter in the watch industry that includes NFTs and crypto-collectibles, as rare physical watches become harder to find.
The first NFT watch ever to go on sale was back in March last year on Open.Sea. The Bigger Bang All Black Tourbillon Chronograph Special Piece was gifted by industry veteran Jean-Claude Biver with Swiss company WIseKey as the NFT image digital twin. However, the NFT had no function attached. Further development is needed to involve the community of young NFT collectors; they expect a more sophisticated NFT feature that brings benefits such as exclusive access or interoperability in game environments consistent with the watch’s heritage and at the request of collectors.
Following the auction, Sotheby’s became the first auction house to auction an NFT in April, when it auctioned a Ressance Spymaster watch and a computer-generated video NFT. However, the watch-NFT space remained fairly empty in the months that followed. It wasn’t until this year that more innovative watch brands began to engage in the space and build communities of NFT watch collectors. Holden Bale, head of commerce at digital agency Huge, said brands should learn from others, like Gucci, who create immersive stories and experiences with their NFTs. “Understand that one day Gucci is going to close an art museum and it will only be open to people who own the tokens it sold. You can expect that even if they don’t haven’t done yet.
American watch retailer Jacob & Co is known for its radical approach to innovation in the traditional field of watchmaking. It plans to release a bespoke collection of beautiful timepieces called Astronomia Metaverso — it will include styles in physical digital and NFT formats. The collection takes inspiration from the solar system and extends into the metaverse, an area that has been relatively untouched by the watch industry. Personally designed by Jacob Arabo, founder and president of the company, the metaverse collection will include eight distinct watches.
The Jacob&Co digital watches have yet to be released, but they will be sold on UNXD, the same luxury NFT marketplace where Dolce & Gabbana Collezione Genesi sold for a record $5.65 million. While details of the designs are still under wraps, the lack of digital limitations suggests they will allow for more interactivity than their physical counterparts, as well as 3D effects. As the luxury watch industry continues to raise prices, NFTs will allow avid collectors to add to their collection with a style likely to increase in value. Given the continued interest in the D&G NFT collection on UNXD, both by DAOs and individual collectors, the new popularity of the watch collection will certainly increase their price.
Jacob&Co is not the only company to offer luxury watchmaking NFTs. Luxury watch brand Louis Moinet has teamed up with Exclusible, a premium NFT marketplace, and Tafi, a leading designer of avatars and digital wearables, including NFTs, to release an original NFT collection inspired by the Louis Moinet Space Revolution watch. “The industry has been turned upside down in recent years with new ways of keeping time, through connected or digital watches offering a new type of functionality,” said Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO of Ateliers Louis Moinet. “NFTs and their unique nature offer a different way to express the creative roots of Louis Moinet, using a new technological frontier.”
Inspired by the brand’s Louis Moinet Space Revolution watch (priced at $380,000) – which was only released in eight models, took three years to design and features a piece of meteorite – the NFTs will be limited to a series of 1,000 and will feature a one-of-a-kind experiential utility. It is scheduled to launch in early 2022. As the NFT Watches will come with an avatar, they will be unique for the collector looking to expand their digital footprint and be able to wear their watch on gaming platforms like The Sandbox.
More importantly, the brand recognizes the value of developing a presence in the metaverse. It launches on Exclusible’s Luxury District in The Sandbox, a decentralized metaverse gaming platform. The brand also wants to focus on long-term community engagement by releasing more NFT drops that build on NFT utility and value. This can be disputed, as additional NFTs can reduce the value of the originals, unless they have a different function. The brand has yet to reveal what the next drops will feature. For now, for NFT holders, the collaboration will extend to Apple Watch backgrounds, as well as prize contests within their community.
Speaking about the collaboration, Olivier Moingeon, co-founder and CCO of Exclusible, said gamification is a way to engage deeper and longer with fans, creating a new kind of emotional connection between a brand and its customers. users or customers. “Ultimately, the power of an NFT collection will also heavily depend on the utilities brands develop for their community,” he said. “As such, NFTs can be seen as a key to a private club that brands can enrich through physical, experiential or digital activations.” It’s an additional way for brands to renew their creativity and continue to innovate. They can also rely on NFTs to express their point of view and their heritage through artistic collaborations or by creating unique and generative NFTs inspired by their products.
Generative NFTs, or those that are replicated with varying functionality, are the most commonly viewed today. They use AI to scramble features, like facial attributes, colors, or textures, to create multiple variables of the same design, like with the Bored Apes Club or Jesus Calderon’s Generative Watches. Just like real watches, rarity traits are imposed on NFT watches to develop a varied pricing model. Calderon’s project bears similarities to Mason Rothschild’s Baby Birkin in that it takes an existing watch design and presents it as a piece of digital art. In a interview For watch publication Hodinkee, Calderon said he focuses on big, well-known branded pieces because these give him the most exposure and lead to better trades for his community. As brands enter the space, they will reclaim that visibility that is part of successful NFT projects.
With more than 2.8 billion people worldwide counting as video game players, NFT-gaming crossover is particularly popular, with play-to-earn games like The Sandbox leading the way. With more users collecting NFTs for use in games, watches like the Louis Moinet Space Revolution Watch could become collectibles in the metaverse and the physical world, bringing together two powerful groups of collectors.
Sharing an appreciation for community and the value of luxury, clubs like the CryptoBear Watch Club are leveraging the unity between the two to create the first metaphysical luxury watch community and gaming experience. Through their own series of 10,000 CryptoBear NFTs with varying degrees of scarcityclub members will be able to redeem their NFT royalties via HODLing for real luxury watches. HODLing is defined as retaining the value of cryptocurrency for a long period of time, similar to how watch collectors keep older watches as they increase in value.
CBWC’s founding team uses their access to the world’s most exclusive luxury watch retailers and their love for the passionate NFT community, to improve accessibility to the luxury watch world through Discord channels and an upcoming experience. P2E MMORPGs. Speaking with the CBWC team, it’s obvious that the most important part of the project is the community. In the next Arkouda game, the idea of owning a physical luxury item served as the inspiration for the time-controlling “powers” possessed by the included bear avatars. “The watchmaking community is very tight-knit. It’s good to see in our Discord, where we have “monitoring conversations”, that all of our users are so engaged. [The watch club has over 50,000 active users.] They’re no small watch collectors — and even if you don’t own a watch, you’re motivated to own one, even if it’s just in the metaverse.
CryptoBear NFTs will be paired with a 3D avatar that lives in the Metaverse and also serves as a club membership, unlocking exclusive benefits and entry into the Metaverse Social Club experience, and adding exclusive access to community events. Whitelisting for the NFT launch will begin on February 17, and general minting will begin on February 18.