Opinion: Blockchain Tech Offers Security, But Zero Owner Privacy

Swiss and other luxury watches make great investments, we all know that. But many criminals like expensive watches too, which means that legit owners are often targeted for theft at home, street muggings, or robberies at watch shops. Breitling and Vacheron Constantin have both announced that they are using blockchain technologies to create digital ownership certificates – kinda like an online V5c logbook.

Blockchain basically encrypts a detailed code, then locks it, date stamps it and then rehashes the code, stamps it again, and so on…ad infinitum. It makes it theoretically impossible to unlock previous versions of the encrypted code. So very secure record keeping right?

Yes that’s true and buyers of new watches will be happy that their £10,000-£50,000 purchase is protected. But what about buying pre-owned, how will a new owner get that blockchain certificate? We are going to hazard a guess that the ONLY way will be via an authorised dealer. So yes, more fees, more data being demanded upfront before you can buy a watch, or have it serviced.

Now let’s move onto HMRC and other agencies overseas like Interpol, FBI, the EU etc. They might also wish to know who owns various assets and you can bet that they will have automatic access to those shop, or manufactuer records – after all, there might be a security issue.

You see where we are going with this don’t you? The end of privacy, the end of ownership. Because if the State chooses to relieve you of those expensive assets due to `an economic/security/climate emergency’ then they will know exactly who owns what, and where it is located.

Watch buyers should boycott brands who offer blockchain, or any other type of digital passports. Because the aim here is to track and trace, not to enhance the owner’s security. A stolen Rolex without its digital passport is still an impressive, beautifully made prestige watch, and that’s all criminals care about. Bling. Kudos. They aren’t going to have it serviced, they’ll just steal another one. The only benefit is to the watch manufacturers, the governments and luxury watch retailers who will act as data gathering gatekeepers for this racket.

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