Number One: Jacob & Co. Is Launching The First Ever NFT Watch
This unique digital version of the Epic SF24 Tourbillon puts the fun in non-fungible.
Earlier this month, the Watchonista team was talking about writing an April Fool’s Day Post. Among the many ideas batted around, one of the stories proposed was announcing a non-fungible token (NFT) watch. These digital assets have been the talk of the town in the art world, with musician Grimes netting $390,000 for a 50-second video and a collage by artist Beeple selling for 69 million at Christie’s.
But our prank idea was quickly put aside when Jacob & Co. announced that it was teaming up with the newly launched NFT platform ArtGrails to release the world’s first timepiece NFT, The Jacob & Co. NFT (Piece Unique 1 of 1). This trailblazing timepiece will be up for grabs via a five-day auction that started on April 4th.
We spoke to Benjamin Arabov, CEO of Jacob & Co., and celebrity art dealer and manager Avery Andon, founder of ArtGrails, to learn more about this timepiece and why you might want to get in on the ground floor of non-fungible collecting.
What is an NFT?
Most NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin or Dogecoin, but its blockchain stores extra information that allows buyers to verify ownership of a work of digital art. And in the case of artwork or a wristwatch, Ethereum also provides the provenance, which adds to its value.
The digital art market has exploded over the past few months, and for Arabov and Andon, it seemed like a natural progression for Jacob & Co. to enter the NFT space. “Our goal is to prove that there is a market for High End Luxury Digital Assets (HELDAs),” said Arabov. “We want to be the first ones to break into this industry.”
Being the first is a big deal. Whoever buys the Jacob & Co. NFT will get a super scarce (and therefore desirable) commodity, and their name will be forever linked to the timepiece. Think, the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication, the most expensive pocket watch ever sold at auction.
Because it is so new, many collectors are wary of owning an asset that you can’t physically hold in your hand. But if established institutions like Christie’s are getting in on the action, there must be some security in the investment.
“When I’m explaining it to people,” Andon told Watchonista, “I compare an NFT to a fancy baseball card – except you can see every past owner, the last time it was sold, and how much it sold for.”
Jacob & Co. has never operated like traditional watchmakers. Founded in 1986 by jeweler (and Arabov’s father) Jacob Arabo, the company went from customizing unique products for its famous clientele to expanding into high-end watchmaking in 2002.
Since then, their timepieces have become legendary for their opulence and technological advances. At Baselword 2013, Jacob & Co. made waves with the Epic SF24 — a travel timer that displayed local time on the dial and a second time zone at 12 o’clock via a retro-style, split-flip clock.
“Art is a form of luxury goods, and the art category has paved the way for NFT, and now it’s time for Jacob & Co. to pave the way for the luxury watch space,” said Andon in the press release.
As an avid watch collector himself, Andon said that he spent his first big paycheck on an “oversized, iced out Jacob & Co. Five Time Zone watch” and credits Arabov for not only taking on the project but also advancing it. The digital-only SF24 NFT will incorporate a tourbillon and replace the city names displayed on the split-flap with the names of 10 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Fantom.
“And as collectors,” Arabov said to Watchonista, “ArtGrails put in the work to deliver the experience of buying a physical watch.” The SF24 NFT will be delivered with a certificate inside a physical hardware wallet inside a unique box.
Long Term Investment
“I call it an alternative asset,” added Andon. “Unlike a physical watch, I don’t have to worry about it getting damaged if I wear it. I don’t have to pay for insurance. I don’t have to store it in a vault where I can’t enjoy it.” Still, Arabov and Andon don’t see NFT watches replacing traditional timepieces. “This is not one stop. There are lots of ways to explore this platform,” Andon told Watchonista. “I foresee that physical watches will be accompanied by an NFT.”
As Arabov has said in numerous press statements, this digital platform represents another exciting avenue for the luxury watch industry, and he wants to be there first. The launch, however, is part of a longer-term strategic partnership with ArtGrails for future curated collaborations aimed at the collector community.
The retail price for the actual Jacob & Co. Epic SF24 Tourbillion World Time in Rose Gold is $210,000. To learn more about this and other fantastic high complication timepiece please visit the Jacob & Co. website.