Luxury in the Age of the Metaverse: Interview with Maximilian Schiefer of Chronoswiss, the Watchmaker One Step Ahead

Today, brands are investing heavily in Metaverse to attack its potential and big marketing promises. A trend long foreseen by Maximilian Schiefer, CEO of Swiss watchmaker Chronoswiss AG. This pioneer abolished the line between virtual and physical by first adopting Web 2.0 at a time when it was just a geek fad and businesses were wary. Chronoswiss already has a concrete vision for the new playground, which is Metaverse. Forbes asked this pioneer about the future of luxury in the digital age.

You were among the first to adopt social media in your strategy and also foresaw the rise of the Metaverse. Do you think Web 3.0 will soon become mainstream?

Maximilian Schiefer : The Metaverse is not a vision of the future, in fact it has existed for a while if we refer to projects like “Second Life”. As early as 2003, users could embody “virtual characters” in this 3D video game. But many people still haven’t realized its existence and its obvious potential. Look at how much our lives have changed in the digital world with Web 2.0 and how it has changed our relationships. The metaverse goes one step further and is already changing the way we experience and consume goods. In fact, I believe in timing and being visionary in adopting these new concepts. Being a forerunner gives you credibility on the one hand and the opportunity to learn on the other.

How exactly did you become a pioneer in these topics?

When I started working in social media, very few people believed in its potential. In the beginning, from 2012 to 2014, we had to explain why Web 2.0 and Influencer Marketing were the future of advertising when we were barely making any money defending this approach. When you are one of the few in the competition who believe in this vision, you learn very early. During these formative years, we learned how to build and serve communities, create engaging content, and transform digital marketing. For Metaverse, I think we’re in a similar situation right now. Everyone has heard of it, but very few have any real vision of its future.

Maximilian Schiefer © Chronoswiss AG

In the luxury sector, a large part of the attractiveness lies in the product’s rarity and quality. How does Chronoswiss ensure continuity between the virtual and the physical world?

This applies especially to Chronoswiss. Much of the fascination of an independent Swiss watchmaker lies in the beauty of craftsmanship. We are very proud of our hand-engraved three-dimensional dials, all of which are made in our workshop in Lucerne. In Metaverse, while the craftsmanship still exists (our 3D watches are also handmade), it’s more of a replica of the real watch. So for the very first luxury replicas made for Web3, we decided to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds.

Maximilian Schiefer : ” Metaverse is not announcing the end of physical luxury products, they will simply have to adapt to a new environment. We have already seen the first steps in the world of watchmaking with NFTs. With Chronoswiss, we go even further. »

Is this bridge to the real world a concept for the future?

Although digital life and work are becoming more and more dominant in our existence, I am convinced that it is important to connect the two environments. After all, we wake up every morning in the real world, where we like to touch and feel things… At the end of September, in the middle of fashion week, we just released our first watch in the Metaverse, nicknamed ” Sugar Rush” “. Decentraland users can purchase limited edition digital-only pieces for their Avatar, combined with an NFT, and an even more exclusive collection tied to actual watches made in our factory.

To achieve this, we have recreated our Atelier Chronoswiss within the Decentraland platform because it is the only means of distribution for this specific model. I predict that people will appreciate being both pioneers and that they will be happy to acquire a beautiful object to touch, to wear.

Do you think that one day we will primarily consume digital luxury, like fashion with avatars? If we stick to the example of watches, what would be the consequences for this market?

When I started selling social media ads, few could have imagined that the way we create product awareness would change irrevocably over the next five years. Now, when people are in doubt, I advise them to take a look at their children and their perception of “statutory luxury”. For them, a high-end armor or a sword in an online game has a very high value, it symbolizes a certain status. When we foresee this paradigm shift, we necessarily know in which direction we are going. The boundaries between the real and the digital will become more and more fluid in the future.

However, this does not mean that physical luxuries disappear, they simply have to adapt to a new environment. We have already seen the first steps in the world of watchmaking with NFTs. With Chronoswiss, we are now going much further.

Decentralized country © Chronoswiss AG

In being innovative with your brand, there is still some risk involved. How do you deal with the “unknown” factor?

It is a chance for me to work in an independent family business. Concretely, this means that when others are content to talk about risks and hesitate, we can instead choose to move on and learn. You don’t find treasure in shallow water… But when you start to feel like you’re losing your footing, you’ve come to just the right place to explore new horizons.

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<<< Also read: "Franck Le Moal, CIO of LVMH: "Metaverse will restore the customer's knowledge of the history and know-how of our products. »


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