The growing mania for NFTs—non-fungible tokens, to the uninitiated—has hit the luxury watch industry. Last week, Jacob & Co. announced it has teamed with the NFT platform ArtGrails to release the first-ever digital watch. That’s right: The timepiece will only exist in the virtual realm.
Like all NFTs, the wristwatch is a unique work whose sale is “minted” on a digital ledger, known as a blockchain. The encryption includes records indicating who created it, who owns it and proof of authenticity.
Based on the Epic SF24, a physical world time travel watch with an innovative split-flap display listing 24 cities around the world, the new digital-only SF24 NFT will replace the names of the cities with the names of 10 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ether and Fantom. Unlike its real-world predecessor, the digital asset will also include a tourbillon. A unique box and certificate will accompany the digital asset.
NFTs are a hot commodity. On March 11, Christie’s made waves when it sold “Everydays—The First 5000 Days,” a JPG file by the artist known as Beeple, for $69.3 million (including fees). Two weeks later, the world’s first NFT house, Mars House by the artist Krista Kim, sold for $500,000.
Although the luxury industry has been slow to embrace technology, Benjamin Arabov, Jacob & Co.’s new CEO (and son of founder Jacob Arabov), is convinced that consumers in the market for digital luxuries will soon make up a significant portion of buyers.
“NFT is an unexplored territory for everyone, let alone the conventional horology industry,” says Arabov. “Jacob & Co. is a trailblazer in discovering this brand-new arena for all the high-end jewelry and watch brands. Our goal is to prove that there is a market for High-End Luxury Digital Assets (HELDAs) and we want to be the first ones to break into this industry. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ NFTs will have a place in the watch and luxury world but ‘when.’ For us the ‘when’ is now and we are preparing for this shift.”
The watch will be sold during a five-day auction that begins on April 4. Bidding starts at $1,000 but, as with technology, the sky’s the limit.