Vincent Perriard is a colourful entrepreneur at heart, a visionary with an impressive background. After working as a radio host and creator, he worked in several communication agencies in Geneva and New York, which inspired him to create his own communication agency in Paris. He then held several management positions in major watch companies (Audemars Piguet, Hamilton in New York, Concord, TechnoMarine and HYT). He is now tackling the counterfeiting of luxury goods with ORIGYN, which aims to revolutionise the fight against counterfeiting. A fascinating interview with an entrepreneur who is passionate… about watches.
What is the ORIGYN Foundation developing?
The watch industry has been confronted with the problem of counterfeiting for years.
In 2020, the secondary (second-hand) market has overtaken the primary market. Today, when a luxury watch is resold on the internet, the only proof of its authenticity is a paper certificate or a card with a QR code. ORIGYN will allow via a smartphone application to determine the authenticity of a luxury product. As soon as the watch is produced, thanks to a programme based on decentralised technologies, machine learning and artificial intelligence, a kind of digital certification will be created. It will then suffice to take a photo of the watch via the smartphone application to find out whether it is original. Each object will thus have its own digital clone (digital twin), a digital identification that cannot be replicated. The application will be free and available to all. Applications to sectors other than watchmaking are also being developed for art, painting or media via the ORIGYN foundation’s declinations: ORIGYN Luxury, ORIGYN Art and ORIGYN Digital Media.
How does this work in practice for the watch industry?
We are currently implementing two product authentication systems that do not use the same technology or development. One is to identify the product at the time of manufacture via an HD photo and the creation of its digital clone. The watch is then sold with its digital clone. The second authentication system concerns luxury products that are already on the market. Important agreements have been signed giving us exclusive access to all the image databases of the Baselworld and Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) shows. This represents approximately 60,000 images of watches collected since 1963. This collection will allow us to refine the set of intelligent technologies we use to identify and authenticate watches. When you scan a watch, the system will be able to tell you the probability of its authenticity. The algorithm might tell you “beware, your watch is obviously fake”. Our goal is not only to offer an authentication technology, but to create a standard, a form of guarantee and assurance. We hope to launch our application in the first quarter of 2022.
How are luxury brands receiving your project?
Last January, we demonstrated the effectiveness of our application to several luxury brands. If our project works, it will mean the end of the counterfeit trade for them.
Moreover, such a system presents applications and huge opportunities in terms of commercial and marketing perspectives. Watch brands will be able to trace a product from the day it is born and throughout its life. The product may change owners and the watch brand will not necessarily have the right to know their identities. However, it will know that the watch with the number 18 has been sold 6 times, that it has remained in Switzerland, etc. By motivating the new owner to provide their personal information, for example by offering them an add-on service or a discount on their next purchase, a direct relationship between the brand and the customer can be created. Brands find this absolutely exceptional.
What technological model is ORIGYN based on?
ORIGYN is a non-profit foundation that uses a blockchain technology called DFINITY, a foundation that has just launched its public network and was co-founded by Gian Bochsler, one of the three co-founders of ORIGYN. ORIGYN needs huge image databases and DFINITY technology to work. It is not just decentralised information, but millions of computers that together form a super computer. ORIGYN is thus the first authentication platform to be based on DFINITY technology.
How do you see ORIGYN in 5-10 years?
As an entrepreneur, we replicate exactly what DFINITY does. The goal is to become a standard that people use. Once our standard is accepted, we will enter the token economy. Then everyone will be able to buy our tokens. And once it is used by the 5-10 largest watch brands, the service will become very attractive and the value of the tokens will increase. So the current value is entrepreneurial. In terms of next steps, we are ready to be registered on Coinlist and our first economic test will be in the first quarter of 2022.
Why did you choose the Canton of Neuchâtel to settle and develop?
It was a natural choice, as both my partner and I are from Neuchâtel and fundamentally love Neuchâtel. And watchmaking is in Neuchâtel.
What aspects could the canton work on to improve its attractiveness to businesses?
This is a vast subject. As far as the economy is concerned, I am rather positive and optimistic about what the canton is doing to make it more attractive to companies. However, the tourism aspect of Neuchâtel could be improved. For me, towns like Neuchâtel and La Chaux de Fonds are synonymous with time, the passing of time, and watchmaking. It’s a 400-450 year old heritage and we should really have a place here, such as a very high level museum or an iconic object where time is talked about and that visitors from all over the world will want to visit.