Fake watches – a scourge, a plague, a blight on the industry. But there is nothing to be gained from simply grinding our teeth, clenching our fists and using expletives to express our disgust for the criminal activity of making or selling fake timepieces – much better to fight back with the latest technology instead.
Watchmaking’s Secret Weapons – To be (fake) or not to be
Bootleg watches fall into two categories – obvious fakes and high-end contraband. You won’t have to travel too far this summer to see “obviously” faked watches, you will be offered them by beach-sellers and you will see them in market stalls. If the seller tells you it is a genuine article, he does so with a wink, so really the buyer knows what he is getting and is willing to accept the fact that by the time his holiday is over, the “steel” bracelet will have turned his tanned wrist a nice shade of green. High-class fakes are perhaps much more insidious. They are made to look, feel and tick just like the real thing and all over the world watch buyers like you and I are getting sucked in and ripped off.
It is estimated that over 40 million counterfeited Swiss watches are offered for sale each year – so what, if anything is the industry doing to protect itself? Quite a lot actually. The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) are united in the fight against fakes, and in the past they have launched joint campaigns with hard-hitting messages to raise public awareness. For once the industry hierarchy is unafraid to embrace all the new technology available to them, taking the fight to the criminals. Websites found to be selling fake Swiss watches have been traced and closed down and seizures have taken place throughout the world.
Watchmaking’s Secret Weapons – Stop piracy !
Last year STOP PIRACY brought together the three main Swiss sectors affected by counterfeiting – watchmaking, pharmaceuticals and audiovisual – together to launch their Swiss Day Against Counterfeiting initiative. The theme of the day was creativity and through involving art students along with members of the public, who created posters and short films, awareness of fake products was promoted in a highly original way. No word on the date for this year’s Swiss Day Against Counterfeiting, but STOP PIRACY’s Lukas Lüthi has informed me that it will be held in or around October 22nd 2014.
Other brands are taking matters into their own hands with regard to “authenticity protection”. Hublot have been an industry leader, using digital protection technology to protect all their watches since 2009 using technology developed by WISeKey. All of Hublot’s boutiques and a further 750 points of sale throughout the world have the use of a system which activates and reads the digital certificate of authenticity, so each piece is traceable. More recently Dior have began to collaborate with WISeKey to offer consumer protection to their timepieces.
Microparts technology takes anti-counterfeiting to the next level. The innovative CLR-LIGA technology developed by Mimotec SA makes it possible to integrate a given motif onto even the most diminutive component, making it an ideal solution for the watchmaking industry. The unique signature will only be visible on exposure to a laser beam thus displaying its authenticity from within – literally. Carl F. Bucherer have been in the headlines recently for using this latest secret weapon to preserve the legitimacy of their watches. The first model to be signed with the Carl F. Bucherer logo is the Manero PowerReserve, and from this year the technology will roll out to all models equipped with the CFB A1000 calibre.