Jacob & Co., the watch and jewelry company renowned for is use of diamonds, is adding a new facet to its business with the release of the first-ever luxury watch NFT.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are entries on a blockchain, a type of digital ledger. These tokens represent one-of-a-kind items and are guaranteed to be authentic. Proving ownership and authenticity is notoriously tricky with digital assets, so NFTs are becoming increasingly valuable and trusted. An NFT is proof of ownership that can be transferred to new owners and proves you own the original, no matter how many digital copies there are out there. The art world was one of the first to embrace NFTs and has taken it to staggering new heights: a digital artwork by Beeple was sold for $69.3 million at Christie’s earlier this year.
Now Jacob & Co. has introduces the first luxury watch NFT in an auction with ArtGrails, a new luxury NFT auction house founded by Avery Andon, the CEO and founder of artlife.com, one of the first strictly e-commerce luxury art galleries in partnership with his brother Alec Monopoly, a street artist with over a million Instagram followers who has created pieces for celebrities and top brands. Benjamin Arabov, the newly appointed CEO of Jacob & Co., partnered with ArtGrails to auction off a one-of-a-kind NFT, a three-dimensional animation of Jacob & Co.’s Epic SF24.
For Arabov, the Epic SF24 was the perfect watch to select for this NFT. He said, “It was the first timepiece that Jacob & Co. developed that was super, super high complicated. It was an absolute technology breakthrough to make this technology work within a watch.” The Epic SF24 features an innovative flap system, reminiscent of classic train stations and airports, where the arrivals and departure signs would flip with each new flight.
On the NFT, the flap system lists 10 different cryptocurrencies, ranging from the most famous, Bitcoin and Ethereum, to smaller, more niche currencies, like Fantom. The choice to list cryptocurrencies was purposeful — Andon says, “By and large, we have found that roughly 75-80% of NFT collectors are somehow in the crypto space or the gaming space. They are very computer-driven people.” When asked who they think will buy this NFT, they agree it could be someone in the crypto world and not a traditional watch collector, who would likely prefer a watch they could actually wear. But, Arabov notes that Jacob & Co. has collectors who work in the crypto world, so the winner could be both.
So what will the winner actually own? The NFT is a 10-15 second three-dimensional animation that shows the 10 cryptocurrencies cycling through the flap system, and it displays a moving tourbillon, which the original watch didn’t have. According to Andon, it’s one of the best NFTs he has seen. He cautions that there as people get swept up in the NFT craze, they might make investments that won’t hold their value. “Not all NFTs are created equally. You have to be smart and you have to do the research of what you’re buying. Just because it’s an NFT and it has a big name behind it doesn’t mean it’s a good investment. I think that people have to start doing a little more research, especially if they’re looking at it as an investment,” he says.
Bidding begins at ArtGrails on April 4th at $1,000. Arabov and Andon don’t know how high the bidding could go, but they hope it will match or outperform the physical Epic SF24, which retails for $210,000. The NFT comes with a custom box from Jacob & Co. that contains the NFT’s hardware wallet and an additional certificate of authenticity.
Will watch collectors buy a truly digital watch? Time will tell.