News from a global crime prevention database has recorded over 80,000 watches which are either stolen or missing in their database, worth over GBP 1 billion.
Press release from The Watch Register with commentary in italics.
Industry news: Over GBP 1 billon of luxury watches are reported to be stolen or missing
The registry, The Watch Register, is a pay to use site headquartered in London, UK and is part of the Art Loss Register. They claim to be the the world’s largest, most established, international database of lost, stolen and fake watches, containing data compiled over 30 years. The service is independent of brand or retailer and provide expert-audited theft checks for watch traders and buyers, as well as specialist watch recovery services to victims and insurers.
Users can search their database and also register stolen watches. A one off search will cost GBP 10. To register a stolen watch, there is a one time fee of GBP 15 to register a request which will be vetted by their team. If there is a proof of loss and a unique serial number is provided, the watch will be added to the site’s database. And become searchable. In addition, if The Watch Register finds the stolen watch, they will charge a location fee of 5% of the value if the watch to let the owner know where to find the watch. This fee is only charged of the watch is successfully recovered by the owner. Alternatively, the owner can pay The Watch Register to recover the watch. This will cost 20% of the value of the watch, and applicable on successful recovery.
This seems to us to be an interesting service. However, we must caveat that we have not tried to use it before, and would advice readers to exercise care, and take all necessary precautions if they are interested in the service.
Key points of note in the release:
- According to the The Watch Register, the number of luxury watches registered has been increasing year on year. Last year (2022), The Watch Register saw 6,815 watches newly recorded as being missing or stolen, representing a 60% increase in the number of missing or stolen watches added to its global database during 2021.
- These are typically watches with a retail price of between £50,000 to £100,000 or more.
- As expected, men’s models account for a very large proportion (90%) of these watches.
- Rolex accounts for 44% of all stolen or lost watches, followed by Omega (7%), Breitling (6%) and Tag Heuer (5%). Interestingly, Patek Philippe is 6th and accounts for 3%. Also, popular brands like Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille and independents do not appear on the top 6 of the list.
- The report also highlights the an alarming trend of more violence being used to steal luxury watches.
New analysis of The Watch Register, a global crime prevention database, has revealed that it has currently 80,000 watches registered as stolen or missing, whose total value amounts to over £1 billion.
The number of luxury watches registered on The Watch Register, which holds the world’s largest and most established international database of lost and stolen watches, has been increasing year on year. Last year (2022), The Watch Register saw 6,815 watches newly recorded as being missing or stolen, representing a 60% increase in the number of missing or stolen watches added to its global database during 2021.
The Watch Register estimates that the total value of missing or stolen watches that it has currently on its global database amounts to over £1 billion. This value includes a number of high-value luxury watches that individually retail between £50,000 to £100,000 or more. Around 90% of the database’s high-status timepieces are men’s models, whose higher retail value make them an attractive target for thieves. From the models of watches that are commonly targeted in street robberies and smash-and-grabs, it is clear that thieves are increasingly sophisticated and knowledgeable about the watches that will re-sell for the highest values.
In terms of the most popular brand of high-end watches registered on The Watch Register’s database, Rolex accounts for 44% of all stolen or lost watches. This is followed by Omega (7%), Breitling (6%) and Tag Heuer (5%).
Table of top 6 luxury watch brands listed as stolen / missing on The Watch Register database
|Percentage of overall watches listed missing / stolen
The trade in stolen luxury watches spans across continents and The Watch Register’s database has stolen and missing timepieces registered by owners located across the world, with thefts of watches recorded in over 90 different countries. The ability to record stolen watches on a database to enable a recovery is dependent on keeping a record of the serial number. In some countries, such as the USA, serial numbers are less commonly recorded by insurers and police than in the UK, which limits recovery potential.
Table of top 6 countries listed as “country of theft” on The Watch Register database
|Percentage of overall watches listed missing / stolen by country
Katya Hills, Managing Director at The Watch Register said: “Recent records show a concerning surge in the registration of luxury watches that have been stolen or lost. The considerable value and prestige of these high-end timepieces continues to attract the attention of sophisticated and international criminal networks, making them a prime target for theft.
“The increasing number of stolen luxury watches also serves as a stark reminder of the risks faced in safeguarding such high-value possessions and we advise owners to make sure that they have adequate insurance for their watch, to keep photographs of their watch and to make a note of their watch’s unique serial number, which will aid its recovery in the event of it being lost or stolen.”
Victims of luxury watch theft can register their stolen or lost watch on THE WATCH REGISTER database, which is used by dealers, jewellers, pawnbrokers and auction houses to identify stolen watches. The company actively searches for watches on the global pre-owned watch market until they are recovered. 35% of recovered watches found by The Watch Register have been located within six months of the theft and 50% within a year.
Owners need their unique serial number and proof of loss such as a crime reference number in order to register their watch on The Watch Register. It charges a non-refundable fee of £15 +VAT per watch to review the registration and if it is recovered a 5% location fee.