One of Switzerland’s oldest watchmakers, which traces its roots to 1718, has entered the blockchain age with a timepiece that stores cryptocurrencies. The watch from A. Favre & Fils aims to create a new type of crypto wallet with integrated mechanical elements.
Laurent Favre, the tenth generation of the watchmaking clan who revived the family tradition in 2008, says the product is no mere gimmick. It is intended to keep the mechanical watch relevant in the modern age. The family firmexternal link almost foundered in the late 1970s when the Japanese quartz watch fad threatened to wipe out the traditional Swiss watch industry.
For Favre, marrying the latest technology with centuries-old craft is the best way to avoid a reoccurrence of such hard times. “It’s a bit like figuring out the future of steam engines in the age of electric trains,” he told swissinfo.ch. “You have to keep adding relevant features that advance the design.”
Unlike other brands that have released limited edition watches with cryptocurrency facias that can be bought with bitcoin, this watch “offers something useful to the crypto community, not just something to spend their money on.”
It will also be a different proposition to crypto wallet apps that are being incorporated into smartwatches and other devices.
The new product, which has the working title ‘Crypto Mechanical Watch’, will not be available until late spring or early summer, and will cost in the region of CHF100,000 to CHF150,000 ($102,000 to $153,000) – or the equivalent in cryptocurrencies. The prototype has not yet been built, but the technology behind it has been worked out.
A vault on the wrist
Designers will incorporate various safety features in case the watch is lost, stolen or destroyed. But the company is not yet ready to reveal what these features are or how the new form of crypto wallet will operate.
All it will say for now is that the watch will feature a ‘cold’ wallet device that keeps cryptocurrencies safe when they are not being used – a type of vault on your wrist. Cryptocurrencies are moved out of the vault when they go ‘hot’ – meaning when they are traded or used as payments.
Favre got into cryptocurrencies early last year just as prices began to explode. “At first, I thought they were just about financial gain for speculators,” he said. “But I soon realized that there was a whole private data security movement behind them.”
“A lot of people have become disillusioned with technology following the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandals of last year,” he added. “People found that companies were using data without their knowledge, and sometimes for suspicious purposes.”
“The only way to repair trust is to use technology for the benefit of humankind, not just a few big corporations.”
Favre is also exploring ways of incorporating blockchain, the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies, into the 300-year-old company. This might include digital ledgers to record transactions or tokenised company shares.