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Timing Is Right for Watchmaker's Blockchain, NFC Solution

Favre-Leuba is bringing NFC-based data about each of its watches to blockchain-based software, thanks to a solution from cybersecurity technology company WiseKey that tracks inventory and provides brand authentication and a personalized record of each purchased watch for consumers.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 19, 2018

Swiss watch maker Favre-Leuba is launching a blockchain-based solution to track the authenticity of its products after sales, using data captured via Near Field Communication (NFC) reads. By capturing NFC-based data on blockchain-based software, the company can thus maintain a record of which watch was sold, when and where this occurred, and to whom, as well as any follow-up maintenance or services. This information can then be shared with watch owners.

The company's NFC technology use began two years ago, while the addition of the blockchain platform begins this year. The NFC and blockchain solution, known as WiseAuthentic Blockchain, was provided by WiseKey International Holding, an Internet of Things (IoT) cross-industry, cybersecurity platform company that provides solutions to the watch industry.

WiseKey's Carlos Moreno
Favre-Leuba launched the system with NFC tags built into warranty cards, as well as an app for capturing and managing the collected data, as a way to activate each watch's warranty and track sales. Now, two years later, the system will use blockchain to create a broader, immutable record of its watches long after they have been sold.

Favre-Leuba, the second oldest Swiss watch brand, is headquartered in the city of Zug. Several centuries ago, the firm was a pioneer in watch design and manufacturing. These days, it is looking ahead to identify technology solutions for a 21st-century market, to ensure that its watches are authentic. The company began working with Wisekey two years ago. "We built our platform around identity management," explains Carlos Moreno, WiseKey's VP of corporate alliances and partnerships.

Swiss watches face two key challenges, according to Reema Vazirani, Favre-Leuba's marketing manager: authentication and providing a watch history that extends beyond the sale. Traditionally, she says, tracking a watch's history and value is a matter of paperwork. However, blockchain not only captures an unchangeable record of a watch's history, but also makes that information available to others as needed.

Favre-Leuba's watches are priced between 2,000 and 8,500 Swiss Francs ($2,010 and $8,543). "The purchase is dear to the customer," Vazirani says. "Given this, we wanted to avail this opportunity of protecting the customer's purchase right from the start."

When a purchase is made, a store clerk removes the warranty card from the watch's packaging, then scans its built-in NFC 13.56 MHz chip, which is compliant with the ISO 14443 standard and is made by Wisekey. Wise Authentication software prompts the employee to select the watch being sold.

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