Luxury Watches Worth $1.3 Billion Stolen By Thieves

Luxury thieves have targeted top-tier brands, making off with approximately 80,000 watches valued at $1.3 billion. 

In recent times, an alarming surge of 60% in luxury watch thefts has raised eyebrows and concerns within the horological community. 

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Around 80,000 timepieces, collectively valued at an astounding US$1.3 billion, reported as stolen or missing.

It is evident that the world of high-end watches is facing a significant security challenge.

Among the most concerning aspects of this trend is the targeting of top-tier luxury watch brands. 

These brands, revered for their craftsmanship and exclusivity, have become the focal point of criminal activities. 

Audemars Piguet’s signature "Grande Tapisserie" dial is the centre of attention in this 41mm white gold model thanks to a new smoked blue dial that enhances the motif.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding/Photo via Audemars Piguet’s official website

Tick-Tock Thieves

Leading the unfortunate list is Rolex, the pinnacle of luxury watchmaking, accounting for an astonishing 44% of the reported thefts. 

Following suit are other esteemed names such as Omega and Breitling, collectively contributing to the disturbing statistics.

Released in 2002, the Seamaster Aqua Terra's restrained display recalled the clean lines of the original Seamaster 300 from 1957.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra/Photo via Omega’s official website

The Watch Register, an entity specializing in identifying stolen watches, has provided critical insights into this disconcerting surge. 

Their data indicates a notable increase of approximately 60% in stolen or missing watches over a recent 12-month period. 

This escalation in thefts has sent shockwaves throughout the luxury watch industry, forcing stakeholders to consider enhanced security measures and vigilance.

Breitling Chronomat Automatic 36/Photo via Breitling’s official website

Time’s Up

Delving into the specifics, The Watch Register points out specific models from Rolex.

This includes the Daytona, GMT, and Oyster Perpetual, accounting for a staggering 44% of all incidents. 

This Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona in Oystersteel and yellow gold, with a white dial and an Oyster bracelet, features a yellow gold bezel with an engraved tachymetric scale.
Cosmograph Daytona/Photo via Rolex’s official website

This is followed by Omega and Breitling, each comprising 7% and 6% of the targeted watches, respectively. 

To celebrate its oceangoing icon, OMEGA has produced a collection of watches with dials in various layers of Summer Blue. A striking tone reminiscent of a perfect day on a boundless sea.
Omega Seamaster/Photo via Omega’s official website

The precision with which these high-value timepieces are being singled out indicates a concerning level of organization and expertise on the part of the criminals.

The criminal activities involving luxury watch thefts have not been limited to mere snatching. 

They have involved carefully orchestrated raids and armed assaults. 

Breitling Chronomat Automatic 36/Photo via Breitling’s official website

Urban centers like London have witnessed a series of high-profile incidents in which armed gangs, and they have targeted individuals for their prized possessions.

The repercussions of these thefts extend beyond the criminal acts themselves. 

The luxury watch market has seen a notable shift, with second-hand prices for the most coveted models experiencing a surge during the pandemic. 

This has created an environment in which the illicit market for stolen watches becomes even more lucrative.

The Wrist Watchers

Moreover, investigators have noted an interesting trend regarding the stolen watches’ gender orientation. 

Approximately 90% of the stolen luxury watches are men’s models, primarily due to their higher retail value. 

As the purest expression of Rolex’s manufacturing spirit, the Oyster Perpetual was designed for those who see the world as having boundless possibilities.
Oyster Perpetual 36/Photo via Rolex’s official website

This factor makes them particularly attractive to criminal groups seeking maximum financial gain.

With these worrying trends in mind, efforts to get the watches back are already in action.

Typically, authorities manage to recover around 35% of stolen watches within six months, and almost 50% within a year.

The team said successful recovery relied on a record of the serial number. 

This emphasizes the need for watch owners to keep comprehensive documentation of their timepieces.

As the successor to the model presented in 1955 and adopted by airline pilots, the GMT-Master II has become the ultimate cosmopolitan watch.
Rolex GMT-Master II/Photo via Rolex’s official website

Gone in 60 seconds

Unfortunately, notable individuals have not been immune to these crimes. 

Famous boxer Amir Khan and cyclist Mark Cavendish were caught in planned raids, which led to them losing their valuable watches.

Mark Cavendish is a British professional road racing cyclist from the Isle of Man who currently rides for UCI WorldTeam Astana Qazaqstan Team.
Mark Cavendish/Photo via Instagram @markcavendish 

The more often these incidents happen and the smarter they become. Therefore, it’s clear that both the police and the watch experts need to work together. 

Stealing Time

The surge in luxury watch thefts presents a complex challenge that demands collective action. 

Criminals are going after top brands boldly.

So, it’s up to amp up security, and work with the police.

The field’s safety depends on taking action together against this disturbing trend.

Banner photo edited by Agatha Romero via Instagram @omega, and Omega’s official website. 

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