In 2018, more than two billion Swiss francs were spent on counterfeit Swiss products worldwide. In terms of value, watches are among the most counterfeited products: For every 20 million genuine Swiss watches, there are 40 million counterfeits every year. The economic damage is enormous.
The ETH spin-off Adresta, founded in 2019, offers a simple solution with blockchain-based certificates that guarantees the authenticity of high-quality watches over their entire life cycle. The tech start-up now relies on Electronic Seal and Swisscom's private blockchain Swiss Trust Chain. Co-founder and CTO Leonie Flückiger explains how this collaboration came about in an interview with Roland Cortivo.
What does Adresta do and what customer needs does it cover?
Adresta digitises the life cycle of luxury watches. All important events of a watch are made available digitally for manufacturers, retailers and buyers on one platform. Every watch whose manufacturer or official seller is a partner of Adresta can be identified and subsequently verified as an original. Thus, every genuine watch has only one digital certificate and one rightful owner. Counterfeits and stolen goods are recognised on the watch market and excluded from it. Adresta supports watch manufacturers in better understanding the needs of their end customers and builds a secure ecosystem around the luxury watch.
How does Adresta create the certificates today?
Until now, we have been working with the Ethereum public blockchain to create the certificates. We already have a product with a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) in use.
Why did you look for a new solution?
In addition to the public blockchain, we also want to offer a decentralised solution, with a focus on trust with Swiss data storage and Swiss partners. A product on the private blockchain is easier to scale. Our focus is clearly on the added value that our product creates for all parties involved, and less on the underlying technology. This is where we want to offer our clients flexibility.
What advantages does the cooperation with Swisscom Blockchain offer you?
We would also like to process our certificates via a private blockchain in the future. Electronic Seal from Swisscom Blockchain writes the unique fingerprint of a document to the Swiss Trust Chain, the private blockchain infrastructure of Swisscom and Swiss Post.
The solution is Swiss made, the transaction costs are easy to estimate and the Swiss Trust Chain is also convincing in terms of sustainability. In addition, Swisscom offers a frontend that we can make available to customers to verify the certificates very easily via drag and drop. Working with a trustworthy brand like Swisscom is another plus point for us, as Swisscom also has experience in the watch industry.
Which documents in the life cycle of the watch are certified?
We start with the watch manufacturer: for example, every new Rolex that is manufactured receives a kind of birth certificate. The certificate confirms by whom the watch was manufactured, contains information such as the
serial number, the warranty, pictures and when and by whom the watch was sold. The document is certified and later allows for second-hand sales, proof or verification that the watch exists in exactly the same way. In the future, there will also be certificates for service, in the case of an inheritance or an insurance certificate.
How should one imagine a birth certificate for the watch?
In principle, we have the possibility via Electronic Seal to certify any type of file. In this case, we have made the experience that a PDF is the preferred variant for the users. In this sense, it is simply a PDF that contains all the important information about the watch. But we map the complete digital model of the watch in our application. As soon as consumers have more touch points with the new application, the technology, or the information on the blockchain, can become more complex.
What are the future plans of your young company?
The next step is to launch our product on the Swiss Trust Chain, and the partnership with Swisscom gives us strong backing. Together we can make an exclusive offer to the watch market. We are already getting very good feedback from manufacturers and retailers, for whom Swissness and trust are particularly important. We will also focus even more on the community aspect, more partners will of course be added and we are working on a Europe-wide insurance for watches. In other words, we want to expand our ecosystem with exciting services, including, for example, news content for watch collectors. What is important to me personally is that we implement our projects in a practical and user-focused way. Through such use cases, we create a habit and advance the technology.
This tech start-up was founded as an ETH spinoff in 2019 by Leonie Flückiger, Nicolas Borgeaud and Mathew Jobin Chittazhathu. It offers blockchain-based certificates for luxury watches. These are stored on an app along with other information.
The co-founder and CTO of Adresta previously served on the board and management of ETH juniors, the largest junior enterprise in Europe. She was selected as a Top 1 % Next Generation Women Leader by McKinsey and Boston Consulting. She holds a Master's degree in Micro and Nano Systems from ETH Zurich.