In recent times, the world of luxury watches has been marred by a concerning trend: the rising incidence of watch theft. According to The Watch Register, a company dedicated to aiding owners, auction houses, and dealers in identifying stolen timepieces, a staggering 80,000 watches have been reported as stolen or missing. This company’s mission is to curb the circulation of stolen watches within the market, but recent data indicates a worrisome escalation in this criminal activity.
According to Bloomberg, over the past year alone, The Watch Register noted a 60% increase in the number of watches added to their list, as compared to the previous year. The pandemic seems to have played a role in exacerbating this issue. As secondary-market prices for highly sought-after watch models from renowned brands like Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe skyrocketed, so did the incidents of watch theft and related crimes.
The impact of this trend has not gone unnoticed by law enforcement agencies. In London, the Metropolitan Police Service launched an operation to tackle the problem after observing a distressing 60% spike in knife-point robberies between May and June. Similarly, Paris witnessed the establishment of a police taskforce solely dedicated to combating luxury watch theft, with its personnel growing to 30 agents, as reported by Bloomberg News.
Among the affected brands, Rolex emerges as the most targeted, accounting for a substantial 44% of the stolen timepieces registered in The Watch Register’s database. Omega and Breitling follow suit on the list of frequently stolen brands. This unsettling scenario is backed by over three decades’ worth of data compiled by the company, highlighting the persistent allure of high-end timepieces for sophisticated and international criminal networks.
Addressing this issue calls for innovative solutions from watchmakers. Audemars Piguet, the creator of the iconic Royal Oak model, recently took a notable step by introducing a service program. Under this program, the company offers to replace clients’ stolen watches over a span of two years. This initiative not only demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction but also seeks to discourage the trade of stolen watches within the market.
For more details, check out the Bloomberg article going in more detail right here.