April 21, 2024

Altr: blockchain, crypto and pre-owned watches

The market for luxury watches is growing exponentially. Seen as a status symbol or as an investment, nowadays watches are a new asset. The actual market size of the industry reached 42.2 billion dollars (39.4 billion in 2021) and is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 5.2% from 2022 to 2030.

In this context, the second-hand luxury watch market, previously the preserve of collectors and auction houses, is growing at an even faster rate fueled by Millennial and Gen Z consumers. Websites selling watches are booming, representing now around a 20 billion dollars business. Younger people buy and sell watches much more frequently and they are interested in pre-owned luxury watches that retain or gain value.

Another factor that pushed the numbers of the watch segment during the last few years is the interest demonstrated in cryptocurrencies and digital technology. A new booming industry exposed to high volatility and fast money. Unfortunately, this exponential growth and the digital trend lead to another phenomenon, e-commerce fraud. The fake watch market represents today around 5% of the legit market, at approximately a 2 billion dollars business, with 40% of these counterfeit sales taking place online.

In this fast-changing context operates Altr, a digital marketplace for luxury collectibles with the goal of connecting the real and digital worlds. On Altr, first-class businesses will be able to digitise their collectibles, while providing users assurances on authenticity as they must have a track record that meets specific criteria and a strong reputation in the luxury market. But how was Altr born and how does it work? We talked about it with Davide Rovelli, an early supporter and community representative for the project.

How did the idea of creating the Altr platform come about among the DAO members?

The team behind Altr is a mixture of tech entrepreneurs and luxury collectibles experts, who saw an opportunity to use the blockchain to make luxury collectibles more accessible to enthusiasts and collectors. The platform allows collectors and aspiring collectors to access and leverage collectibles in innovative and exciting ways.

What is Altr’s main objective and how does it work?

Altr is a revolutionary marketplace that utilizes innovative technology to enable users to access luxury assets in ways that circumvent traditional barriers of entry. One of Altr’s key features is fractionalisation, which allows users to purchase a percentage (or fraction) of a collectible rather than the entire item, allowing more people to benefit from the upside potential of owning a luxury asset. The platform also allows collectors to digitize their assets, creating a digital certificate of ownership that can be used to access liquidity through the collateralization feature offered by Altr, allowing a collector to borrow money against a collectible without having to sell it.

Who can access the platform and how can they access it?

The Altr platform is accessible to all. Users can easily register on the website and once logged in, purchase items, or parts of items, on the platform using USDt (digital dollars). After completing the purchase, users can choose between claiming physical delivery of their items or holding a tradeable digital certificate of ownership. Opting for the digital certificate guarantees the secure storage and maintenance of the item until the user decides to sell or arrange for physical delivery at a later time.

Can you explain what advantages blockchain technology brings to the world of luxury goods and watchmaking in particular?

The technology allows ownership of whole or fractions of collectibles as well as the opportunity to digitize any asset. For example, collectors can buy a share of a Rolex Daytona, which can then be kept, traded or used as collateral for a loan. Altr facilitates the instantaneous generation of a non-replicable digital certificate of ownership, an NFT, to represent the ownership of the luxury collectibles listed on the platform. Collectors can also submit a watch to be digitized and receive an NFT of ownership, whilst the item is securely stored. In addition to providing greater ownership flexibility, Altr’s use of blockchain technology also ensures transparency throughout the transaction process. The platform offers clear transaction histories, records of ownership, and details of each item and its components, enabling buyers to make fully informed purchasing decisions.

How do you source the goods available on your marketplace?

Altr works in partnership with leading dealers and experts in the watch and luxury collectibles sector to carefully source and certify each item before it is listed on the marketplace.  We call these experts Oracles and they are there to ensure that authenticity and quality are the primary foci. Only pre-approved Oracles with a verifiable track record are allowed to list collectibles on the marketplace.

Who are your watchmaking partners and what is their role?

Altr is working with a network of world-class experts, auction houses, and dealers in the luxury collectibles industry. One of the first partnerships was with The Watch Boutique, who are now an official Oracle. The Watch Boutique’s expertise and reputation in the watch sector make them an invaluable part of the project. In addition to The Watch Boutique, Altr has received early backing from key figures in the luxury collectibles space, including Monaco Legend Group. This support and guidance had been instrumental in Altr’s growth story so far. Altr will be announcing more partnerships in the coming months.

Do you have any particular case studies to share?

At the beginning of 2023, Altr undertook a soft launch of the platform to test the functionality and user interface. In partnership with The Watch Boutique, a unique and very special Rolex Daytona 6265 in yellow gold was fractionalised into 500 shares. The watch was in new-old-stock condition and represented one of the most desirable watches of it type to come to market. The watch was listed and sold out for a total price of 195,000 USDt. Altr is now reviewing all of its functionalities in readiness for the official launch in early summer 2023.

Is the platform open just to cryptocurrency markets?

All transactions take place using cryptocurrency, USDt (digital dollars). However, Altr is working on a new service that will allow anyone to easily exchange their traditional currency with USDt (digital dollar) through Altr’s platform, using a credit card. With this service, Altr is able to expand the reach of the platform and provide a greater user experience and greater accessibility to buyers around the world.

What other luxury goods do you plan to include in the future?

The initial focus has been on vintage watches and cars, with the aim of offering a carefully curated selection of high-quality collectibles in these categories. However, there is a recognition that there is a vast and diverse world of luxury collectibles beyond these segments, and we are excited to expand our platform in the near future. By offering a broader selection of collectibles, we aim to create a truly comprehensive marketplace that caters to the diverse interests of our buyers.

By Davide Passoni