January 21, 2013 – By Simon de Burton
Geneva-based WISekey is best known for providing apparently impenetrable, ultra high-tech information security and identification management systems to protect data in a diverse range of sectors including health, education and defence. Now, the company is beginning to make its mark in the luxury goods world through the use of a system designed to prevent the sale of counterfeit and “grey market” wristwatches.
Fledgling brand, HYT (the Hydro-Mechanical Horologists) is the latest to adopt the WISeAuthentic system, which will be supplied with each of its revolutionary, liquid-display watches.
WISeAuthentic takes the form of a digital reader and a warranty card containing a unique and non-forgeable digital certificate. The card enables a prospective purchaser or retailer to carry out a cast-iron, high level security check, either online or by using the device in conjunction with the Near Field Communication (NFC) system on a Smart phone.
But, as well as proving that a watch is genuine, WISeAuthentic also contains full details of its sale, ownership and service history.
Ion Schiau, HYT’s vice-president of sales and marketing, admits that the likelihood of one of the brand’s award winning, €40,000 watches being faked is slim (the company uses a bellows system to pump brightly-coloured liquid around the edge of the dial to indicate the hour), but says WISeAuthentic has additional uses.
“HYT’s horology is hybrid and high tech, so to be able to deliver our first watches in December along with another, totally 21st-century system seemed appropriate,” says Mr Schiau.
“Although WISeAuthentic was primarily developed as a tool against fake watches, it is far more wide-ranging than that – as well as containing information about warranty and servicing, it should also prevent any parallel trading as the details of anyone who retails the watch will be stored. Our system will provide access to a private club and tailor made concierge, rental car and hotel booking services,” says Mr Schiau, who first introduced the idea to the watch world back in 2009 while working for Hublot.
At first, the famously conservative watch trade was reluctant to accept the idea. But the so-called Hublotista system is supplied with every Hublot watch sold around the world and is also linked to a private, online owners’ club offering protected discussions, exclusive information, invitations, information exchanges and privileged access to some of the brand’s activities.
Hublotista’s function as an anti-counterfeiting system is also of considerable benefit, as the stellar success of the brand’s Big Bang models has made them popular watches to fake.