September 3, 2009
by Ariel Adams
The debate over how to reduce the damages from replica watches has been raging on for a while. There is no way to stop the watch replica market, but their might be an easier way to determine which watches are fake. Plus, such technology could be used to identify and mark watches with much greater precision. That is exactly what Winwatch intends to do with their development of small RFID (radio frequency ID) tags that it will place inside of watch crystals. In fact, they see three major areas that such crystals will have. Those being, countering the counterfeit watch market, improving the manufacturing and supply chain process, as well as providing an ability to provide far superior customer support. They certainly have a good point is the special new crystal can be seamlessly integrated into the existing method of watch manufacturing.
Winwatch, based in Switzerland and has several pending patents on this technology. They have just announced the release of a stater test kit for watch makers who want to experiment with the new products. The kit will arrive with: 1 EPC/RFID Reader + 1 testpiece with watchcase/crystal/RFID-gasket + 10 samples RFID-gaskets + 1 demo software. It isn’t free, but the cost should be very aggressive given that Winwatch is trying to encourage adoption of the technology. The starter sets should be available in a few months.
The RFID tags can be planted into both mineral and sapphire crystals – which is good. The RFID tag is tiny, and placed directly in the center of the crystal over the spot where the hands usually connect. This will diminish it being see as this is the spot least observed on a dial. These are major issues of importance to me, because one wants to make sure that if a watch company adopts these crystal based RFID tags, they won’t detract from the basic user experience. I truly do get excited to see the application of modern technology applied to watch making that has a reputation for being staid (to say the least) at times.
There is a lot to look forward to as well. Customer service people who actually know what you are talking about. Watches that can be tracked in various supply or shipment chains as well as imbued with special information (as you know the amount of info that you can place on a watch is limited). The information in the RFID tags can even be updated. Such as when a watch has been serviced, etc… A potential barrier to seeing these watches in too many places is the high cost of materials. Winwatch is a business and as such may charge too much which will be a problem now as watch companies are looking to reduce costs. Look out for more details soon. Hopefully watches with built in RFID tags will be available within a year’s time.