Prince once said, “Time doesn’t exist. Clocks exist. Time is just an agreed construct.” The same could and could be said about the ownership of digital artworks and NFTs. Can you really own something that has been replicated thousands or sometimes millions of times on the internet? You can, but only because we all agree that you can.
Recently, TAG Heuer made history by using its famous craftsmanship to combine these two theoretical constructions with a software update for its Connected Caliber E4 collection. The company announced an update in June, which allows watch owners to display their NFT artwork directly on their wrists.
A new software feature from TAG Heuer, called Lens, allows you to connect crypto wallets like Metamask and Ledger Live, and then display one or several NFTs on the connected watch. The lens supports both still images and animated GIFs, which will play as infinite loops. Verified NFTs are displayed as a hexagon with a cloud of particles gravitating around the image, allowing you to prove that the NFT displayed on your watch is authentic – as long as the person you’re trying to prove it to is aware of this feature.
Since it’s still a watch, Lens has a “new conceptual design” that allows users to tell the time with “a triangle and a circle representing the hours and minutes.”
For those unfamiliar with the technology, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital assets whose ownership is recorded in a decentralized digital ledger called blockchain, the same technology that powers cryptocurrencies. NFTs can be anything from a Michael Jordan dunk GIF to a free throw line to a piece of digital art.
For both creators and collectors of digital art, NFT and blockchain technology have been monumental. Creators can now be compensated in a similar way to traditional artists. And because their authenticity can be verified, these digital artworks can increase in value, making them attractive to collectors
Now digital collectors can display their art directly on their watches.
While this feature is the first of its kind, the idea of wearing pop art on your wrist isn’t new — Mickey Mouse has graced watch faces ranging from Timex to Rolex starting in 1933. The Apple Watch has dozens of ways to customize the display, though it lacks native support for displaying verified NFTs.
TAG Heuer is also not the first luxury brand to embrace blockchain. Gucci, Louis Vuitton and countless others have launched NFTs with mixed results. But its embrace of blockchain technology as fundamental to its future puts TAG Heuer in the same category as other forward-thinking manufacturers – Fendi partnered with Ledger on a luxury hardware crypto wallet, Samsung launched an integrated NFT marketplace and a growing number of luxury products. brands including TAG Heuer and parent company LVMH have begun accepting cryptocurrencies.
In some ways, this release is a logical progression for the 162-year-old heritage brand. Founded in 1860, Heuer has continually been at the forefront of its industry, inventing revolutionary technologies including the Mikrograph, the first stopwatch capable of accurately measuring 1/100 second steps, the first self-winding chronograph, and the first luxury smartwatch. Astronaut John Glenn wore a Heuer wristwatch on his first orbit around the Earth.
On the other hand, this is a departure. Most of the company’s innovations are focused on precision and performance, making them favorite watches among pilots, divers and other consumers for whom accuracy is of the utmost importance. Other than signaling status for the device owner, there’s no practical reason for a wristwatch to display a looping GIF with proof of ownership. Although, to be fair, many innovations in horology, including the invention of the wristwatch, were initially considered frivolous. The first wristwatches were treated as jewelry and were owned almost exclusively by women.
And convenience is not the point for the NFT crowd. While companies love Atomic Form and Infinite objects work to integrate NFTs into the traditional ways we experience art, others embrace the way NFTs integrate art into our everyday lives.
Users with premium Twitter accounts can display verified NFTs as profile pictures. People interact with NFT artwork in video games. Others display NFTs on their idle computers and smart TVs as expensive screensavers, functioning as displays until someone clicks to wake the device. This means that we often experience stunningly expensive works of art in the same way that we experienced them Flying toasters early 90s screensaver.
This subversive approach to art and currency is the underlying ethos of the crypto community. Perhaps displaying an 8-bit punk avatar worth more than $170,000 – but only because the market agrees that it is – on a watch made by one of the most respected heritage brands on the market fits that ethos perfectly.
TAG Heuer Connected Caliber E4 owners can access the new feature via a free update in the Apple App Store (the update will be coming to Android soon). Those interested can learn more about the TAG Heuer NFT watch here: