Back in April, Breitling CEO Georges Kern announced on Instagram Live that the company would be forgoing the use of box and papers to certify its watches in an effort to cut down on environmental waste. The industry is already woefully behind on its efforts to promote sustainability and environmentally sound practices, so this is a major leap forward for a Swiss watchmaker that will certainly appeal to its millennial audience. But other clients, used to relying on boxes and papers as a value enhancer for timepieces, may take time to embrace the new initiative: Typically, a watch sold without its physical box and papers is worth less. Breitling packaging can sell for over $200 on eBay for watch enthusiasts looking to replace lost boxes or up the resale value of a pre-owned model.
As of now, every watch sold by the brand will come with a blockchain technology digital “passport” that connects each piece to its digital warranty program. It will allow clients to not only extend their warranties, but also request servicing and track repairs as well as subscribe to insurance for protection against theft or loss. Another big selling point is that owners can guarantee authenticity if they ever want to trade or sell on the secondary market.
So, how does it work? The certificate can be securely sent via a transfer to the new owner, whose details will be logged in the digital passport, so that even if the piece trades hands multiple times there will be an easily accessible track record of its authenticity which will also affirm that it hasn’t been stolen.
The passport is accessed by scanning the QR code from the watch’s warranty card, but owners can also manually register their Breitling by providing the model’s reference and serial number, found on the back of the watch. While it’s currently only available to new models, Breitling plans to extend digital certification to older pieces as of mid-January 2021.
Although the new program means that your next Breitling piece will no longer come in a fancy presentation box—watches will now be delivered in pouches—the ease of using a digital tracker, rather than having to wait for the company to offer verification via email, should be a welcome change for consumers (not to mention no longer having to find somewhere to store all those boxes). And given that Richemont last year began testing its own blockchain tracking technology with Vacheron Constantin, we expect that the rest of the industry may soon follow suit.