It's not every day that I have something original with which to start a new thread, so here goes.
I was thinking (dangerous, I know) and I realized that there are a number of (relatively) newer technologies/innovations watch manufacturers could implement to combat/counter counterfeiting and theft. I'll just list here a few of my ideas, and what I see to be their pros and cons. Please be warned that this may be a lengthy list.
Idea Pros Cons barcode engraving easily done; technology to do so exists; space on (most) watch cases exists easily duplicated one-way crystal (reflective side on the inside so you can see the watch from the outside) interior side can be used in "reflector test": open caseback, remove movement, and see if the interior side of crystal reflects light (to do this without removing the caseback would require shining the light through at an angle and at least a semi-reflective dial; costly to duplicate (I think); ideal for watches with skeleton movements and see-through casebacks expensive, especially if using sapphire glass; may require opening watch case (usually) diffracting crystal shine a light/laser through it to see identifier information encoded in crystal (invisible to naked eye), kind of like how the bug in Jason Bourne's hip contained bank information not visible unless the LED was turned on; does not require any opening, only a laser/diode; difficult and costly to duplicate expensive; difficult to do without obscuring glass (the information on CDs is in fact encoded on the reflective surface, not the clear plastic) RFID tag easy to install and conceal in a watch, i.e. can be an easily-missed (by counterfeiters) detail sets off supermarket/department store alarms; once counterfeiters catch on, easy to put into a fake; no way to make RFID tags contain individual item identifiers (as far as I know) ID chip/smart card-style tag easy to install and conceal in a watch (e.g. as part of the circuitry of quartz watches, or perhaps concealed somewhere in/on the crystal or the case) expensive; may require major modifications to watch design
In terms of pros/cons, this is what was going through my mind:
1. the modifications need to consider ease of duplication (which will in turn affect the ease of manufacture or lack thereof) and cost of duplication.
2. the modifications should consider whether or not significant modifications to current watch configurations are needed (e.g. unlike Rolex' rehaut, which consists largely of special engravings, most of the modifications I've suggested in the list require modifications that go beyond simple engraving).
3. the modifications should consider the ease of access, i.e. how easy/difficult it is to use the modification to verify authenticity (if it requires opening the case, then it's no good).
The first idea that prompted this was the diffraction crystal idea, then the smart card-esque chip and RFID ideas. To expand on the diffracting crystal idea, this is what came to mind:
The information on CDs, which is not visible to the naked eye, and cannot be reproduced/modified unless the CD is a CD-RW, is read by scanning it through a laser while it spins many times a second. In first film of the Jason Bourne series (I read the books too, but I liked the films more), one of the guys who pulls Jason Bourne out of the water finds an LED device in Jason Bourne's hip that, when turned on, projects bank account information but when looked at head-on just looks like an activated LED. I am not sure what about these two led me to diffracting lenses (because neither is an example of diffraction per se) but nonetheless that was my train of thought.
What if individual watch identifier information, and in the case of really special watches, individual owner information, could be encoded in a watch's crystal such that it wouldn't obstruct the view of the dial but when a light/LED/black light/laser was shined through it, it would display information (or reflect an image) that could verify a watch's authenticity? What about a hologram-embedded crystal (too easy to copy, maybe)?
So, what ideas do you all have? What am I missing about the ideas I've posted so far? Also, in my mind there's no reason why several of these couldn't be implemented simultaneously; in fact, some of them may be stronger marks of authenticity when used in combination.