Web3 platform OpenChrono has launched, introducing a new transaction standard that could protect consumers and reputable dealers from a secondary market for luxury watches beset by scams and scandal.
Blue chip watch brands commonly inflate demand for their watches by tightly controlling supply. Subsequently, for most buyers, the secondary market – an international network of independent dealers – is their only option to purchase a luxury watch. While it typically adds a premium to retail prices, buyers are incentivised by access to watches they otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy.
This creates a highly liquid market, stock moves quickly and it is the responsibility of the buyer to ascertain the quality, origin and authenticity of an asset ahead of purchase. The liquidity and lack of traceability of this market appeals to bad actors, and it has in part helped to fuel the current rise in luxury watch thefts.
Even within respected circles, questionable practices are commonplace. The nature of dealer networks mean that, in some instances, dealers will sell watches they’ve never had in their possession and cannot guarantee the quality of. For private individuals selling watches, consigning their assets to a dealer to sell on their behalf is standard practice and affords them the best price. This practice drew mainstream attention last year when respected dealer Anthony Farrer admitted to having ‘lost’ $3 million worth of client consigned watches. His clients had no legal rights to recoup their losses.
OpenChrono intends to put an end to these practices. Founded by CEO Kevin Bradford and Graham Forster, who set up eBay UK’s watch authentication programme, OpenChrono is bringing luxury watches on to the blockchain as part of a process that includes physical storage and authentication. Every watch listed for sale on the platform is independently authenticated, digitised and vaulted, so buyers know exactly what they’re purchasing, its exact condition, and location.
The platform looks much like any other marketplace. Each watch listed on OpenChrono is issued a Timepiece Passport (TPP). Unique to the platform, this is an accurate record of all its information which is readily available on site for every user to see. The passport sits alongside a digital representation of ownership, which is linked to a set of legal contracts protecting both parties in the event of a sale. Digitisation opens up additional functionality and owners of luxury watches can unlock value from their collections without selling by collateralising their watches. Their asset will remain securely vaulted throughout the duration of the loan, mitigating the risk to lenders.
For a community of enthusiasts – including those not currently able to purchase a luxury watch – OpenChrono will be the place to go to admire rare watches with others who share their passion. Each listing is more than a generic picture on an online marketplace; all transactions are open, as are TPPs, meaning the community can view and compare the particulars of every watch currently vaulted. They can also engage with owners, sellers and dealers via our community channels, to share knowledge or source specific models.
Founder and CEO, Kevin Bradford, said: “We’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished here. We’re one of the first to connect Web3 and physical infrastructure, creating a model that not only offers a safe and transparent online marketplace, but gives our community new ways to experience and enjoy these assets, such as unlocking value through collateralisation.”
The first users have already completed onboarding and OpenChrono launches with over $400,000 worth of assets vaulted, including Rolex, Tudor and Richard Mille. TTPs for all vaulted watches can be viewed at openchrono.io, along with those currently for sale on its marketplace.
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