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Watch Brands Continue to Test the Benefits of Blockchain



A watch’s “life story” can make or break its resale value: Is the timepiece an authentic model or a forgery? Who were the previous owners? Is it intact or have original parts been replaced? Has it been serviced regularly and, if so, by whom?

The conscientious owner may have the watch’s certificate of origin, bearing its serial number, and service records, but if the watch has been handed from one generation to the next or sold several times, the paper trail is often incomplete or missing entirely.

What can watchmakers do? Some are examining blockchain, the distributed ledger system that has underpinned cryptocurrencies since 2009. While that sounds complicated, it actually just involves recording information permanently on a database, shared by more than one computer, that can be retrieved, but not changed, by authorized people.

Since 2016 Favre-Leuba, said to be the second-oldest Swiss brand after Blancpain, has been creating digital files called tokens through the WISeAuthentic blockchain platform. The tokens include authentication and warranty information, and allow service information to be stored. A few watchmakers, including Hublot, Franck Muller and Chronoswiss, already have accepted cryptocurrencies, and therefore blockchain, as payment for specific new models.

For each watch, a set of information, including a certificate of authentication, has been digitalized and placed on the Arianee platform. Buyers also get a traditional paper certificate, but they can access the digital version, called a nonfungible token or e-passport in blockchain terms, through a QR code and store it in a secure wallet on a smartphone.

“We are constantly upgrading the wallet and the content shared through it,” Mrs. Au-Yeung said. “The possibilities are infinite. For the pilot, we started with the most critical information and, on top, some interesting facts about these special vintage pieces. We have plans to enhance the content, going beyond the focus on the specific piece, including the maison, the collection, the people behind it, et cetera, to make it increasingly relevant and meaningful to the clients.”

Thibault Verdonckt, MB & F’s international sales director, wrote in an email that he believed the system was a solution for the pre-owned market, where, “more than ever, trust in the timepiece is key. A digital certificate will help buyers get information about the piece they are about to buy, and sellers will be able to increase the value of their timepieces.”

Paul Boutros, head of watches, Americas, at the auction house Phillips, said in a phone interview that Vacheron Constantin’s test was a small, but important, step toward improving the authentication of secondhand watches and, ultimately, clients’ confidence about what they were buying.

From his perspective, he said, he would like such records to include the production date; location of the first sale, the watch’s original configuration, including the case metal, dial style and movement; high-resolution photographs; and service records.

Skeptics about the use of blockchain for watches are concerned about privacy and how brands will reconcile the digital product with the physical one. But Pierre Nicolas Hurstel, chief executive of Arianee, said cryptography guaranteed the anonymity of whomever holds the token, “The platform is private by design, we never know, and there’s no way for us knowing who owns the passport.”

At Vacheron Constantin, a watch’s engraved serial number appears on the paper and the digital certificates. But, Mr. Hurstel said, a brand also could decide to link its physical and digital product differently.

“We will soon launch N.F.C. chips as well,” he said, referring to near-field communication. “In that case, the chip is inside the product, and you scan the product with your phone, which activates the certificate,” adding that a wine and spirits brand and a footwear brand on the platform plan to use that method.

For Mr. Boutros, the real challenge for blockchain will be getting owners to use it consistently: “Will the collector who bought it continue to update it on the blockchain? I think it will require some education for the potential buyers to keep the integrity of the watch’s provenance and be disciplined in updating the blockchain with future service or future sales.”

Arianne is not the only platform focused on authentication solutions for the luxury industry. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has said it is developing its own blockchain protocol, called Aura, in collaboration with Microsoft and the technology company ConsenSys. LVMH has said the project will begin by authenticating Louis Vuitton goods and Dior perfume, but it refused to comment when asked when the project would begin.

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Celebrity Makeup Artist Pati Dubroff on Finding Inspiration and Fall Trends




Photograph courtesy of Winners

We caught up with Pati whilst she was on a whirlwind trip to Toronto this month

When we meet Pati Dubroff at Toronto’s Le Germain hotel, we realize just how lucky we are to snag a moment of her time on her trip to the Canadian city. In town for a total of 24 hours, Pati jetted in for her work with Winners, and sat with us to chat about the top trends for fall, the importance of good lighting, her top products and whether or not she’d launch her own line. Here are the highlights from our conversation:

On working with her clients to achieve a certain beauty look

“For something like the Venice Film Festival with Laura [Dern], the stylist sent me a picture of the dress and I was very much in a conversation via text message with her and with Laura to talk about what I was thinking. I’ll send images so everyone is on board. Because talking about things cannot really relate the message as well as an image can. It’s totally collaborative and then I need to also be prepared to change in the moment because you might think it’s going to work in your head but once it’s on [you see that it doesn’t]. There is no one way. I try to see images of the dress and try to understand what the event is. I’ll ask a bunch of questions like ‘Who is the crowd?’ ‘What’s the environment?’ Because you don’t want someone to have some really strong edgy makeup and they’re sitting with a bunch of older refined people. You have to be appropriate in all ways.”

On finding inspiration

“I try not to look at Instagram too much. I mean, it sounds kind of corny but I am a nature girl. I look at these flowers and I think it would be so pretty to put that pop of orange next to that colour. I look at things like that. Or when I am travelling or I am on vacation, I’ll take pictures of nature things, like rocks. I was in Italy and there was this incredible orange moss that was growing on a rock. It was bright orange and it had a gray, green kind of rock base with the pops of orange moss. I don’t even know if it was moss, I don’t know what would you call it. And I took a bunch of pictures of that and that was the colour story for one of Margot’s looks in the Once Upon a Time In Hollywood press stuff. I look at art, too, but I feel nature is more accessible.”

On Margot Robbie’s yellow eye 

“I did a yellow eye on Margot two years ago and I still feel like we are seeing yellow and I know that when I did that, people were a little surprised, you know? ‘Cause it was not really [a done thing].  I am happy that Margot was bold enough to experiment and where that leads for the average woman is [to show her] you can experiment. It’s as easy as you put it on and you take it off and with experimentation it doesn’t have to be expensive either.”

On not retouching images

“There is nothing wrong with seeing beautiful skin. It doesn’t need to look like a mask and I think that the FaceTuning and all of that is just doing such a disservice to the person who is doing it to themselves because then their expectation of what they should look like is so unrealistic. I know, for me, if I take a picture of myself and I smooth it out, of course I like the way I look. I look like I looked 10 years ago but that’s not how I really look like. So why would I try to fool myself, fool others, who am I fooling? All I am doing is setting myself up to be disappointed when I look in the mirror. When it comes to photographing myself or photographing someone else, instead of relying on FaceTuning to get it right, I’m going to find good lighting. You know? Find a good place with beautiful light and that makes all the difference.”

On overrated beauty products 

“Contour palettes, or unicorn glow. But there is a place for that. A contour palette, I often use as an eyeshadow palette but if I use it to put stripes on my face it wouldn’t fit my aesthetic. To give the eye shape, it’s perfect. A unicorn palette if you use it all over you can look a little alien, but used delicately with little dots and spots of highlights is really beautiful. So I think that anything can be overrated if it’s not used well. And anything can be underrated if it’s not used well.”

On developing her own line

“I had something at one point. It had my name on it and that was great. And then there was a point where I was developing something that was a more luxury brand with my name on it and that one didn’t come to fruition because I realized just how hard it was and how expensive it was and I want to sleep at night. And my friends that are brand owners tell me very often, don’t do it. I have heard that so many times. It’s just so much harder than you could even imagine. When I was developing this higher end brand, I was pretty naive thinking this will be pretty easy. And then as I got into it I was like, oh no, no, no! This is a full time job and I love doing makeup, so I don’t want to give up doing makeup. But that all said, if the right opportunity presented with the right team – because I can’t walk in thinking I can do this myself, I need a team – if that team appeared and you know we created something, that would be interesting. But I want to know that I can sleep at night and that I can still do makeup.”

On her go-to products

“Rollers, stones, sheets masks – because I spend more time prepping someone’s skin than actual makeup sometimes. A great moisturizer and a great primer, a great eyelash curler is important, and then after that it’s all fun. It’s all the prep stuff. If those things aren’t there, then the makeup will go on and the skin won’t look as radiant. I want the skin to look radiant. Oh and a great lip balm! So important. I mix it up. I like a Weleda Skin Food. That one is great.”

On the question she gets asked the most

“How do I get the right eyebrow, or how do I fill in my eyebrows with the right colour? That one comes in a lot because I feel that people don’t understand if they are supposed to pick their hair colour or their eyebrow colour or something in between. Knowing that seems to be a big one. Another one is blush placement. Where is the right place? And I feel that if someone puts the blush in the wrong place it can really do something to the shape of the face that maybe isn’t that flattering. So really making sure that they are not getting too close to the centre of the face, and not too close to the eye.”

On fall trends

“I think fall is fun. In the summer you want less because you just don’t want your skin to have the weight on it, but now you feel that you can put more on and it’s going to stay put and it’s appropriate. I am loving autumnal colours. I just came off a summer of  orange but I am not bored of it yet. As long as it’s with other things, like greens. For me, it’s all about the rich incredible palettes in autumn.”

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Oahu, Hawaii: So Much More Than Sun, Sand and Surf




Photograph courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority

“Although I can now understand the allure of Hawaii’s beaches, it’s the spirit of its people, more than anything, that makes the islands so special.”

I never expected to visit Hawaii. For me, the sand and the sea do not a vacation make. Give me an overcast day on the craggy cliffs of Ireland! A whisky by the fireplace, not a mai tai by the ocean! My aversion to all things beach-y (and to heat and sun in general) is common knowledge in my circle, which is why a few days into my trip to Oahu, a friend who was following along on my Instagram from back home in India messaged me, “Somewhat surprised, nonetheless happy, to see you enjoying a tropical place.” But no one was more surprised than me.

A few months earlier, when an invite to the Aloha State first popped up in my inbox, I figured this might just be the perfect opportunity to visit a place I was unlikely to venture to on my own—and a place I knew embarrassingly little about (beaches, volcanoes, Obama…and I’m out).

On day one, we are greeted by the pristine sands and tall waves of Waikiki, on the south shore of Oahu. The weather in April on the third-largest island in Hawaii tends to be warm, not hot, with a pleasant breeze. Still, I am slightly dreading the activities—hiking and canoe surfing (an Austronesian tradition involving an outrigger canoe and furious paddling)—we have scheduled for a couple of sunny mornings later in the week. Outrigger canoe racing is the official team sport of Hawaii, and surfing is its official solo sport, the earliest known written accounts of the latter dating all the way back to the 1700s. Waikiki is where legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku honed his skills, but there’s a lot more to this sandy stretch than that. The hotels here are some of the oldest on the island; they were built in the early 20th century, when wealthy foreign travellers arrived on its shores by steamship.

The Moana Surfrider, an oceanfront property that opened in 1901, is an integral part of the island’s hist­ory. More than one current employee tells me stories of grandparents attending dances at the hotel or sitting on rocking chairs on the hotel’s porch and watching the island celebrate the end of World War II. Icons from Frank Sinatra to Lucille Ball to Shirley Temple have stayed in its rooms, and radio dispatches from Hawaii were broadcast right from the hotel’s courtyard for 40 years, starting in the mid-1930s. But the bit of the hotel’s history that captivates me the most is its majestic banyan tree, planted back in 1904. Almost 23 metres tall and 46 metres wide, it has a network of branches and aerial roots that stretches out over the entire courtyard overlooking the ocean, casting enchanting shadows everywhere you look. The best way to take in its immense beauty is over afternoon tea on the hotel’s veranda, which wraps around the courtyard. Be sure to sample the scones with passion fruit (called lilikoi in Hawaiian) curd, the tropical tea blends and the best truffle fries you’ll ever taste.


For our mid-morning hike a couple of days in, we make our way over to Waianae, on the west shore, whose rugged mountainous terrain was formed from a single volcano four million years ago. It’s warmer and sunnier on this side of the island, the landscape alternating between desert-like deep-red sand and lush green hills, but in the shade, it’s surprisingly chilly (as we realize during our hike on the Palehua Trail). The dense forest cover along much of the trail means that the air is mercifully cool for our trek up to the lookout point for sweeping views of Pearl Harbour, Waikiki and Diamond Head, the island’s famous 300,000-year-old volcanic crater. (Pro tip: If you’re hiking Diamond Head, which I highly recommend for its spectacular views of the coastline, be sure to get there at sunrise. A couple of hours later, it will be far too hot and crowded to be enjoyable.) Before leaving Waianae, we make a stop at MA’O Farms, a 10-hectare organic farm that teaches sustainable agricultural practices to local underprivileged youth and helps them reconnect with the land.

When I speak with people who grew up on the island, their desire to honour the ancient customs and practices of their people comes up often.

That connection is very important to Hawaiians. When I speak with people who grew up on the island, their desire to honour the ancient customs and practices of their people comes up often, along with the worry that their culture’s practices and ways of life are being lost to commercialism and mainstream commodification. “Community, culture, land—these things are sacred and alive and need to be kept going,” says Kekai, our Hawaii Forest & Trail guide. It’s a fear that is no doubt exacerbated by the state’s tumultuous history. Hawaii’s painful past—the overthrow of its monarchy in 1893 and subsequent takeover by the United States—remains a sensitive subject, the specifics of which I was unfamiliar with until my visit to Iolani Palace in Honolulu.

The palace is where Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, was kept under house arrest by annexationists and all but forced to abdicate the throne. It’s both moving and unsettling to see the remnants of her time in captivity carefully preserved—a reminder of the unceremonious usurping of power from Hawaii’s original inhabit­ants and leaders. Most of the original furniture, fixtures and textiles in the palace were auctioned off after the coup, as the palace transitioned into a government Capitol building. When it reopened as a museum in 1978, curators began the laborious process of trying to locate those long-gone artifacts, scouring auctions, estate sales and ads in search of pieces of Hawaii’s history. “We’re still looking for the king’s bed and his dining room chairs,” says our museum guide. “A chair once ended up at Goodwill, where our curator recognized it.”

This pushback by native Hawaiians against the erasure of their culture started long ago and continues today, evident in the encouraging of younger generations to learn ancient practices like hula and in the concerted efforts to promote Hawaiian artists and artisans through events like the Honolulu Biennial. When it comes to food, though, pinning down what constitutes Hawaiian cuisine is a challenge thanks to the Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and myriad other influences over the course of the archipelago’s history. But that’s also what makes dining in Hawaii exciting. Oft-recommended local favourites include loco moco (a rice dish topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and gravy); slow-cooked kalua pig; and shaved ice doused in fruit syrups like guava chili, passion fruit and pineapple.

By the end of my week in Hawaii, I had officially gone from being “not a beach person” to “a beach-at-sunrise person.” Thanks to the six-hour time difference between Oahu and Toronto, I was up before dawn each day; it’s how I discovered there’s really nothing quite like sitting on cool, untouched sand at daybreak, in silent communion with the early-morning surfers already dotting the water, patiently waiting for the sky to lighten from indigo to pale blue and pink. Although I can now understand the allure of Hawaii’s beaches, it’s the spirit of its people, more than anything, that makes the islands so special. Theirs is a rich, compassionate and deeply spiritual culture that—powered by the essence of aloha, a way of life for Hawaiians that means “to share the breath of life”—they’ll gladly share with vis­itors to their land.

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