In 2020 alone, forgeries cost companies a massive $461 billion to business across the world, with watches right up there as some of the most forged luxury products.

The watch market is no stranger to forgeries, but new technologies like 3D printing have given rise to ‘super-fake’ watches; harder to identify than ever before, and a growing issue for luxury brands whose clients value the experience of owning genuine masterpieces.

Robert Loomes, the vice-chairman of the British Horological Institute, explained the scale of the problem, saying, “There is scarcely a part of the market not touched by forgery. All the well-known Swiss premium brands are frequently forged. There is no getting away from the problem.”

In this environment, how can customers and brands protect themselves from fake goods?

Trust your instinct – but be careful of fake papers

Even for experts, spotting forgeries is becoming a challenge.

“Forget everything you have been told about looking for forgeries. Many years ago, it was said that you could tell a genuine Rolex by its smooth–sweeping seconds hand. Nowadays all the Rolex forgeries have such smooth-sweep hands.”

As Loomes explains, “boxed with original paperwork”’ is not enough to believe in a watch. Now many forged premium brand watches are sold with “original paperwork” including holograms and other branded items like boxes, all designed to look something like the original.

Where to buy your watch

2020 has been the year of online shopping, and the internet has opened new trading opportunities for everyone.

But it has also had a massive impact on the forgery industry. Fakes are available on every platform, and forgers can sometimes set up fake websites that look real, to trick buyers into thinking they are purchasing a genuine timepiece.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy online. Just remember, while the picture may look authentic, remember to check, and check again when it comes to online.

Protecting investments with blockchain

If you are buying a watch for an investment, a family heirloom, or entirely out of love for the craftsmanship, then the problem with counterfeits is obvious. But forgery is a much larger issue than just cheating the consumers out of the real thing – especially when physical makers marks and authentication paperwork are not working. Brands and consumers need something more.

“Many brands are adopting blockchain-based systems for their content and their products,” said Yaliyomo CEO Nihat Arkan. “The beauty of blockchain is that once we create a record, for example, a ‘digital sibling’ of a Rolex watch, that data can’t be deleted. Any amendments show up with complete visibility. In practice it means that once the blockchain records the product, its authenticity is guaranteed,” He added.

Y platform – the company’s consumer-facing solution for brands, does just that. Developed by experts in content management and high-end retail, the CMP has the benefit of an API which allows it to sit alongside existing Content Platforms. Byorn Bayard, Yaliyomo founder, explains, “We wanted something that would dramatically improve security and traceability for both brands and consumers without having to migrate fully onto a new platform, with new processes and lots of difficulties. We can get clients set up and their products recorded and authenticated in the blockchain in a matter of weeks.”

The process is even easier for consumers. “For a customer, all they need to do is download our App, available on the Apple  App Store and Google’s Android Store, open their account, and they are ready to go.”

Authorised brands and sellers can create digital siblings and pass these on the consumers as proof of authenticity and ownership. In turn, customers can pass this on again when they sell on their timepiece or give it as a gift.

Whether a watch, a piece of jewellery, a fashion statement or a financial investment, everyone wants to take care and protect themselves from fraud. A digital world needs a digital solution – blockchain and Y platform offer a ready to go solution that could help end the massive global forgery market for good.