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Q&A: Favre-Leuba explains its new blockchain system

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Why did you initiate using the blockchain system for Favre-Leuba? 

Swiss watches are precious to their owners and they want to ensure that what they buy is original and authentic, and they can trace the watch down to its components and value chain. Blockchain as a technology not just allows for this transparency but also traceability. One can hence be assured that the Favre-Leuba they buy is genuine (not fake)

Furthermore, watches are misplaced and stolen too. We have had two cases so far of such incidents. It is the blockchain technology that allowed for us to identify that the watch was misplaced and being sold online. We could reach out to the owner to confirm this fact and then also trace and get the watch back safety to the owner. This unique way of tracking and providing safety is found to be very valuable by the Favre-Leuba watch owners who share a bond with their instruments.

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Another customer insight that we had was the warranty of the watch. With a warranty of 5 years, it is difficult to expect a customer to keep the paper document to avail the service features when need be. When we digitised this on the blockchain platform, it allows for a very unique watch to get paired with a unique card number. This then links up in the system thus allowing the customer to be worry free on storing of the paper document. It also helps them to report any misplacement of the watch by sharing with us the warranty card number, or sharing the watch number learn of the remaining warranty period on their timepiece. This system also allows storage of data and service information on their watch, which could prove valuable at times.

Last but not the least, most Swiss watches are owned and live with the customer for many years to come. Customers also like to pass them down generations within the family, wherein sometimes there is a need to then trace the watch to the original owner and year of purchase as well. Such system on paper record keeping is not ideal when one considers the life of watches for 50 years and longer. It also assists customer during resale and purchase of a watch, a query we often get on the vintage models of Favre-Leuba.

How does blockchain work for Favre-Leuba watches?

For the genuine ownership and where blockchain comes in, is the manner of warranty activation. Each watch has a unique number to it. Each warranty card has a differentiated number and each retailer has a different access code card to sign in to our software. All these things are located at different points in our system and shipped separately. Only upon a confirmation of a new retailer do we send out the software and access card so only the authorised retailers can sell a Favre-Leuba with the correctly activated warranty. A Favre-Leuba which has not been activated for warranty can be alerted in our system if it reaches our service center and is identified as being so. We can then learn of any improper sales from unauthorised points as well.

Are there any use cases already of the application advantages?

We found a watch on eBay. It was a watch we had documented as being available without UK distributor. On seeing it on eBay we could confirm this as the unique number was visible. We contacted our distributor who confirmed it was misplaced and he contacted the seller to get it back

The second case was the watch that belonged to our brand ambassador, Mr Pen Hadow, also from UK (coincidentally). A colleague saw this online. We reached out to Mr. Hadow to check if he was trying to sell the watch when he mentioned he was very disappointed as the watch was stolen. He isn’t sure when and where from but he doubted at a fuelling station. We then got in touch with the police and registered a complaint. We together then contacted The Watch register platform to find the watch and recover it. The watch was found by us on the site chrono24. The detective from the Metropolitan Flying Squad and from The Watch Register help reach the seller. Given the unique number on the watch, they could confirm it is the same watch in conversation. Since the seller didn’t have the warranty card and other paper work to prove the watch belonged to him, they could prove he wasn’t the real owner, which even the seller admitted. He had got the watch from someone else too. This allowed us to recover the watch and hand it back to Mr. Hadow.

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Daniel Malins

The author Daniel Malins