lockchain and Web3 are hot topics in the luxury sector. The momentum and progress in this space has been driven by the acceleration of digital initiatives during the pandemic. At a pan-industry level, several key players have emerged with blockchain solutions to effect change.
One of them is Arianee. Founded in 2017, and headquartered in France, it is a combination of an association and a startup partnering with Breitling, three Richemont brands, and several other companies. Fundamentally, Arianee focuses on “tokenisation”. But what does this mean in practical terms? Europa Star talked with its co-founder and CEO, Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel, to try and decode the jargon, find out what problems they are tackling and determine where they bring benefits along the value chain.
To understand why platforms such as Arianee pursue their mission on a cross-industry scale, we need to begin with the basic idea of what Web3 is.
When the World Wide Web was invented in 1989 by Oxford graduate Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in Geneva, it gave us a ‘read-only’ internet. Around 2004, what became known as Web 1.0 evolved into a ‘read-write’ web, which gave users the ability to generate their own content. Web 2.0 not only gave rise to social media but also allowed platforms and companies to collect and own the data supplied by users. Blockchain technologies will enable the next generation of the internet - Web 3.0 or Web3 - to be ‘read-write-own’, allowing users to control ownership of data.
According to leading blockchain platform, Ethereum, “Web3 has become a catch-all term for the vision of a new and better internet. At its core, Web3 uses blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs to give power back to the users in the form of ownership.”
It is this promise of decentralization, ownership, and traceability that is driving digital players to find a utility fit and envision a utopian future for the luxury sector spanning industries including watches.
Arianee is exactly building on the possibilities around data ownership. “The reason we are in business is to transform the internet and put power back in the hands of customers and brands. It is what we believe in,” says Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel. Last year, Europa Star interviewed Hurstel to discuss the independent organisation’s structure, governance, and its application. A year on, Arianee’s vision of its place on the value chain has solidified.
Its technology creates a unique digital non-fungible token (NFT) for each product on a blockchain (tokenisation) and issues an immutable birth certificate at the brand level. This token accompanies the product and allows the owner to access its associated entitlements, activate new services, and have a relationship with the brand. As Hurstel stresses, “It’s not just about giving the product a passport, it’s about reinventing the digital relationships between brands and their users with decentralisation and data privacy.”
Arianee’s open-sourced protocol is developed and implemented by in-house engineers and run on several public Ethereum-based side chains such as POA and Polygon.
Breitling has been the first watchmaker to use this technology at scale. For two years now, every single Breitling watch produced and sold comes with an Arianee digital product passport. The date of sale and the warranty details are recorded on the NFT using the on chain time-stamping feature of the protocol. The activation of the digital product passport in the customer’s wallet allows him to prove that he is the owner of the watch to access a fast evolving suite of innovative and high value services: live watch estimate, trade-in program, and soon club and membership. Most recently Breitling used the digital passport to share transparent information about the Super Chronomat Automatic 38, the first traceable watch (read more here).
This is also how Richemont-owned IWC and Vacheron Constantin are using Arianee NFTs or digital product passports. Each token logs the entire lifespan of the watch from the point of sale and after sales to changes of ownership. Because the digital identity is attached to the watch itself, no personal data is stored on the Arianee platform. As such, it creates a direct trail that links back to the brand without any intermediary. Holders of IWC tokens can claim membership of ‘Diamond Hand Club’, an exclusive digital client platform where owners can trace and authenticate their IWC timepieces. Members can also discover worlds of exclusive experiences via the platform, with content developed speciﬁcally for them. These include both physical events and services as well as virtual and immerse events in IWC’s 3D space in the metaverse.
Brands can then build enriched NFTs on the Arianee protocol using its enterprise SaaS (software as a service). Some of the many benefits of enriched NFTs include making them easier to claim, enabling timestamping, allowing messaging between brand and users, and creating a token gated-experience. “This is Arianee’s added value: this token might tell you something about the product,” says Hurstel. “But Arianee is mainly a service platform, more than a reassurance and information platform. We help brands to take advantage of our enterprise SaaS blockchain solution with API and web services designed for large corporations.”
Arianee operates in the downstream of the value chain. Its open-sourced protocol is developed and implemented by in-house engineers and run on several public Ethereum-based side chains such as POA and Polygon, which are among the most energy efficient infrastructures in the ethereum environment. According to Hurstel, Arianee has already minted (created) one million product-NFTs. “The brands that work with us are looking for a digital relationship tool and not a track-and-trace tool,” he says.