In an environment that is clocked through and synchronized with the coordinated world time, wristwatches no longer fulfill a purely functional function. They are fashion accessories, investments and status symbols. But why should that only apply to physical watches? The NFT market shows that the value of virtual goods is being renegotiated and burned into the “real” value chain. The latest trend: Functional and dynamic NFTs that can be worn in games or 3D worlds, that can change and adapt to new circumstances. So do they Metawatches from software manufacturer Axonic, which are intended to herald the turn of the century.
It took just 34 minutes for the Analog Summer collection, which included 1,234 NFT watches, to be sold out. The demand for the Metawatches seems great. And this despite the fact that you “actually buy a pig in a poke”, as Martin Welker, founder of Axonic and Metawatches CEO, explains to BTC-ECHO. Because “the assets are all sold face down”. Buyers first receive “a box in the wallet and you don’t know what’s in there”. Similar to trading cards, the NFT charade should also serve as an incentive to buy, but this is done “for reasons of fairness”, explains Martin. To avoid preliminary speculation and give everyone the same chance. Only when the boxes open do the new Metawatches owners know which watch model they have got hold of.
Exclusivity is therefore also a value-enhancing factor for the individually designed NFT watches. For a special collection limited to ten watches and distributed by the Nagel Draxler Gallery, the Metawatch team was also able to win none other than Kenny Schachter as a designer – the “enfant terrible of the New York art scene”, as Martin calls him. But what actually makes the watches so special?
Watches that move with the times
Metawatches are dynamic NFTs that “actually display the time on your device”. Dynamic because the development team can adapt the watches to new conditions and thus make them usable for many applications and end devices: as artwork on smartwatches or items in VR games and Metaverse platforms. “If a Metaverse allows for dynamic content, we will adapt the NFTs to be wearable,” explains Martin. The team keeps a back door open for this.
Ownership claims and transaction data are stored on the Ethereum blockchain and are therefore unchangeably secured. But: “What the watch does is done off-chain on a central server.” In this way, the developers can equip the watches with new functions and update them for new environments. “We leave the artwork on our server for as long as possible to be flexible for new metaverses. If a new update comes from a Metaverse, someone has to program it”. The Metawatch team takes care of that: “If something new comes up, we will re-render the clocks and offer new interfaces to Metaverses.”
Grabbed by the NFT fever
On- and off-chain also describes Martin’s relationship with the crypto market. The qualified computer scientist started early. In 2013 he bought his first ten bitcoins at a price of 80 euros each – and like every early adopter, he experienced some “embarrassing stories”. So he parted with some bitcoin again below the purchase price. Martin has also tried his hand at mining. “But it didn’t all work that way,” he says. The graphics card is still lying around somewhere today, “as expensive old metal”.
“That was my bitcoin experience, so to speak,” Martin recalls, “the next step was then Ethereum”. From today’s perspective, bizarre: “I got my first ten ethers as a gift because I signed up somewhere”. After a few attempts at flirting, he finally tasted blood in spring 2021 when he was intensively involved with NFTs. And so the idea of dynamic NFT watches gradually matured.
“We are in an incredible bull market”
Martin has already “gone through a few crises”. After his studies, he witnessed the bursting of the dot-com bubble in San Francisco in the early 2000s, and a few years later the icy crypto winter, in which quite a few market prophets provoked the end of the crypto hype. But he is firmly convinced of NFT’s success.
“I don’t believe for a second that what we’re going through right now will go back to zero in any way.” NFTs are not a fad, but rather a door opener for broad social changes that can disrupt power structures and establish new rights of participation. Martin is certain that “with DAOs and Web 3.0 and with NFTs as a representation of assets, we will experience a radical transformation not only in the digital, but above all in the analogue world.” Non-fungible tokens are changing our perspective on value creation in the digital age, “colorful NFT images are just the tip of the spear”.
What about the sales figures of trading places like Opensea can be read, is the expression of a radical upheaval. “For me, watches are a wonderful means of expression of this revolution that is taking place there”. He is therefore not worried about the future of metawatches: “I firmly believe that digital assets can coexist alongside luxury watches.” And what’s more: “I believe that watch lovers’ passion for collecting can certainly be virtualized”. Especially since mainstream adoption is still pending despite massive growth rates on the NFT market. “That’s why I’m very bullish on that.” Not necessarily at the “micro level”, there will also be setbacks and market corrections with NFTs. “But the overall movement” can no longer be stopped – the clock is ticking.
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Metawatches conquer the NFT market