Watermarks: the benchmark of authentication

Watermarks have been used to ensure effective document and banknote protection for centuries, and are the most well-known security feature. Major world currencies are therefore well-equipped against counterfeits – not least as the result of a recommendation from Interpol. We have refined watermark technology and production, and made them more secure.

Checking the watermark is a first step in banknote authentication. Watermarks are used worldwide, as the public immediately recognize slight deviations in the portrait or in the motif, because watermarks are extremely difficult to replicate faithfully. Most imitations are low-contrast printed copies.

Over the years, we have developed an array of watermark designs, each of which has a distinct appearance. Our multitone, highlight and pixel watermarks can be linked together on a banknote in order to create unambiguous and memorable motifs. The distinctive appearance offers highly effective protection against counterfeits. And watermark designs are often amplified in printed and applied security features, further assisting to simplify the authentication process.

Benefits of the cylinder mould watermark

  • proven authentication and global acceptance
  • easily recognizable motifs due to multitone watermarks
  • flexible design with an array of cross-referencing options
  • maximum security due to exclusive production processes
  • durable and long-lasting as they are embedded in the paper

Multitone watermarks

Our traditional watermarks are security features that are perceived as three-dimensional. They take the form of portraits or other motifs created on the cylinder mold paper machine. Paper fibers of various thicknesses form halftones in the finished paper, and these watermarks are therefore referred to as “multitone”. They enable high contrast between bright and dark areas, and finely modulated transitions. Anyone looking at the banknotes therefore perceives the motifs as realistic, and quickly recognizes minor deviations.

Highlight watermarks

The paper weight is reduced in the production of highlight watermarks. This creates noticeably bright areas, which increases the visibility of the individual design elements even further. These versatile watermarks are particularly well suited to representing the value of a banknote as an accentuated visual element within a complex watermark design. In addition, it is extremely difficult to forge our exclusive highlight watermarks.

Pixel watermarks

Pixel watermarks offer high-contrast and particularly striking effects, making banknotes even easier to authenticate. Generally, they present dark points (pixels on a bright background) in transmitted light. Our pixel technology enables new design options and attractive effects – in particular when combined with a multitone watermark, among other options. Imitations of pixel watermarks are mostly poor-quality printed copies.


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Giesecke+Devrient Currency Technology GmbH

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