Luxury watch thefts surge, impacts shopper confidence

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Approximately £1.5 billion, and growing. According to the worldwide Watch Register database, that is the current astounding total value of luxury watches that have been lost or stolen.


The watch crime prevention database has seen a 236% increase in the quantity of watches with unique serial numbers added to its global listing in the last year. As a result, the database is urging increased cooperation from all parties involved in order to “disrupt the global trade in stolen watches” and “tackle the escalation in luxury watch crime.”

Watch crime “is a growing public concern which is impacting consumer confidence,” the statement emphasised.

It calls for the support of a centralized worldwide database for the registration of lost and stolen timepieces from manufacturers, auction houses, insurance companies, dealers of watches, and law enforcement organizations.

The demand is made in light of “the proliferation of fragmented watch registration database services, which dilute data archives and cause confusion, reducing the chances of returning a match for a lost or stolen watch,” according to the Watch Register.

The Watch Register’s managing director, Katya Hills, stated: “It is not advantageous to have a cluttered, fragmented market with numerous registration sites. Because a trader might look through a different database than the one where the stolen watch was registered, it greatly increases the likelihood that the watch would go undiscovered. Additionally, it makes traders unsure about which platform to use, which may discourage them from using databases altogether. These are but a few of the difficulties outlined in our paper, which suggests industry-wide backing for a single global searchable database that lowers the marketability of stolen timepieces.

Hills cited the Art Loss Register, its parent firm, which has thirty years of experience safeguarding the art trade and raising standards in the industry. We are aware of the significance of offering the market a single, globally recognized due diligence database to locate missing or pilfered artwork.

“Once a match is made, our skilled investigative team uses cross-border negotiation skills to reunite a watch with its rightful owner, in addition to the advanced search algorithms of our global database that aid in the practical identification of a watch serial number.”

Watch dealers, jewelers, pawnbrokers, and auction houses utilize the Watch Register’s database to “identify stolen watches prior to transactions,” as it “actively searches for lost and stolen watches on the global pre-owned market until they are recovered.”

It claims to find four lost and stolen watches a day on average and uses a specialized recovery crew to secure the lost or stolen watch and take it out of circulation. According to the report, 35% of the watches were found within six months of the crime, and 50% of the watches were found within a year.

Emily Mitchell

Emily's passion for fashion journalism and her keen eye for runway trends make her the ultimate source for the latest fashion news and exclusive insights into the glamorous world of catwalks.

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