Luxury watches valued at over $1.3 billion have been reported as stolen or lost, and their number is rising due to increased resale prices in the secondary market.
Specifically, The Watch Register, a company assisting owners, auction houses, and traders in identifying stolen watches, has recorded 80,000 watches as stolen or lost.
Just last year, 6,815 watches were added to the list, marking a 60% increase compared to the previous 12 months.
As resale prices for popular models from Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe soared in the secondary market during the pandemic, their thefts also increased.
The London police initiated an operation last year to address the issue, as knife-point robberies rose by 60% from May to June. In Paris, the police task force exclusively dealing with luxury watch thefts was bolstered to 30 members.
According to data from The Watch Register, thieves prefer Rolex watches, accounting for 44% of stolen watches. Omega and Breitling follow suit.
Nevertheless, some brands are taking significant measures to combat the problem. In April, Audemars Piguet announced a new two-year customer service program that includes replacing stolen watches, as reported by Bloomberg.