I’d like to express my deepest sympathies to the three unlucky travellers who recently made the news while flying into Hong Kong from Doha. They reportedly were the victims of one of the biggest inflight thefts in history, having discovered two watches worth US$105,000 had been pinched from their luggage. It’s every collector’s worst nightmare and an unpopular topic to discuss when swapping tales over cigar smoke and whisky at ritzy watch get-togethers. However, the reality is most of us know someone who has had a treasured piece stolen.
In December, Hong Kong police arrested five men over an armed robbery during which 47 watches worth US$360,000 were taken. A few months before, a young man walked into a shop in Far East Plaza and ran out with two Rolexes worth over US$100,000. And the Philippine Watch Club has an entire online thread called “Stolen Rolex”, which gives advice to those who have had their wrist candy lifted.
The sheer size of the problem is reflected by the popularity of organisations such as the Watch Register, which is the world’s largest database of lost and stolen timepieces. “Our database was first set up in 1990, but the majority of the watches we have registered were reported in the last five to ten years,” says Katya Hills, the Watch Register’s managing director. “During this time, luxury watches have become a top target for thieves.” Today the Watch Register contains information on more than 70,000 tickers. “About 500 stolen watches are currently reported per month from all around the world.”
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