Watch Crime: Audemars Piguet Lead Charge To Combat Stolen Watches
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Watch Crime: Audemars Piguet Lead Charge To Combat Stolen Watches

Watch Crime: Audemars Piguet Lead Charge To Combat Stolen Watches


  • The brand from Le Brassus has established a new industry first with the launch of a scheme to replace stolen or damaged watches.
  • Customers who bought an Audemars Piguet in 2022 or this year can register but must provide a valid police report and other details such as the serial number.
  • Richemont has taken a different approach with a new digital platform recording stolen timepieces and bijouterie so they can’t be sold on illegally.


Watch Crime On The Rise


A stolen Rolex GMT Master “Eye of the Tiger” in January 2016 from a store in London was found and recognised by the Watch Register before it had the chance to be sold - Source: CNN

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Well the stats don’t lie. Watch crime is on the up and shows no signs of abating. According to a recent report by LBC, it is believed that more than a whopping £30 million in luxury watches has been stolen annually. Furthermore, London has taken a horological hit as there are more watch thefts in the capital than anywhere else in the country - 6,000 cases alone in just a 12 month period. You cannot go down the road these days flaunting your flashy Rolex Daytona or Nautilus without an eagle eye over your shoulder. Since 2018, there have been over 100,000 watches stolen worth in excess of £160 million, while the average value of a stolen watch comes in at in excess of £5,000. 

Franck Muller Vanguard Chronograph worn by Amir Khan valued at £72,000 - Source: Oracle Time

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Even former boxer Amir Khan was subjected to watch theft in Leyton after his bespoke Franck Muller Vanguard chronograph was taken. Grim reading indeed you might think but some luxury brands are fighting back with gusto.


How Does The New Audemars Piguet Warranty and Guarantee Work?

Royal Oak Self Winding, Source - Audemars Piguet

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One luxury brand that is not taking it on the chin is Audemars Piguet. They have just brought to the table a one of a kind programme which insures customers against watch crime - up to the value of nearly £60,000. Not too shabby indeed as the starting price for an Audemars Piguet is around £14,000. Although you can buy an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding nearly three times over (£21,800) for the amount you stand to be compensated for. Mind you, if you have one of the three Royal Oak Complications, worth more than £800,000, I’d keep it for a rainy day and ensure it remains indoors…at all times! 


What Precisely Do You Need If You Have A Stolen Watch? 


As long as you are registered for this new initiative. Audemars Piguet require;


  1. Proof of ownership including any sales receipts and serial number
  2. A full police report concerning the actual theft.
  3. Images of the watch


As soon as AP is happy with the details, they will do one of two things. Either issue a refund up to the value of £60,000 or replace the watch accordingly. Covered for two years from the point of sale, those who purchased an AP in 2022 are covered until 2024 while those who have already bought or intend to buy an Audemars Piguet brand new in 2023 will be safe until 2025.


What Happens If I Own A Discontinued Audemars Piguet?


If your beloved item is not manufactured any more, a customer will be given a similar model housed within the present day lineup. However, a pre-owned, resold or vintage Audemars Piguet is not eligible under this new programme.


What’s Audemars Piguet’s View?


François-Henry Bennahmias, Source: Financial Times

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During a tete-a-tete with Bloomberg, François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet declared; 

“We listen to our clients and we have to look also at what’s going on in the world right now. We have important cities in Europe and in the US that are not as safe anymore.”

Despite the AP honcho stepping down later this year, he speaks wisely as the street cred of luxury watches has gone through the roof. Everyone wants to literally get their hands on that must have Rollie or PP, the second you set foot out the boutique. It’s not just for the style police but it’s also the sell on value especially if it is a limited edition or a rare piece. Despite Bennahmias stating there could be many legitimate claims from customers over the next few years, the system could be prone to potential fraud;

“You cannot develop and offer these types of things thinking that everybody’s gonna abuse the system,” he added.


Demand of The Secondary Market vs Watch Crime


What's for sure is that the increasingly high popularity of Audemars Piguet watches in the secondary market is running alongside the upwards growth in theft. The value of an iconic Royal Oak has always been strong and excess retail price more often than not. At the worst, you won’t lose anything on it. Consequently, this makes the brand and model highly desirable among criminals especially with the secondary price tag of some Royal Oak which can command more than £50,000. This is a bold move from AP as watchmakers become more and more concerned with watch crime and the lure of a prized luxury watch. Street violence is fast appearing the norm as thieves act quickly to storm off with their horological bounty. But it’s this status symbol of watch collecting wealth, expense and luxury that has seen many rappers highlight the hobby. Just take DJ Khaled’s track Big Time with Future and Lil Baby. Listen out for the first words from Future here which drops “Rainbow Audemars” into the first line of the song, referring to the 32 gem encrusted Royal Oak timepiece.


What Is Richemont Doing To Tackle Watch Crime?


Source: Indeed

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And it’s not just Audemars Piguet who are doing something about watch theft. The Richemont Group, home to 26 Maisons from Cartier and Panerai to Roger Dubuis and Vacheron Constantin has announced a new secure online platform. Known as Enquirus, this will allow relevant luxury details to be stored and uploaded onto a safe and secure platform. Customer protection is ensured through this online portal where owners have the opportunity to document their watches as soon as the sale is completed. In essence, this means if a customer’s timepiece has been taken it will then be reported and logged, making it incredibly difficult for thieves to sell on a stolen watch;

“This reliable solution brings together multiple stakeholders to serve customers and the entire industry, by facilitating borderless cooperation between police forces and insurance partners…By providing free access for customers and industry partners, the opportunity to sell stolen watches becomes more prohibitive, with the ultimate objective of reducing the incentive to steal watches in the first place.” states Jérôme Lambert, CEO of The Richemont Group.

The aim is to make Enquirus the biggest global database for stolen watches and precious jewellery involving police departments across all important cities. In addition, registering your watch via Enquirus means customers can be reunited with their timepieces rapidly and anywhere on the planet in case they have been stolen or mislaid. Despite being at an early stage, this one stop shop (or should that be platform) wants to ensure that more enterprises and owners will subscribe making it easier to find customer novelties in a timely manner. Should you decide to buy a watch that is pre-owned,  you can even search the database to verify whether it is a stolen item.

And with close to 180 luxury watch brands and nearly 30,000 watches featured as lost or stolen, this scheme will no doubt make it more comfortable for customers who want to sign up. Major players already on Enquirus include the likes of every Richemont brand (IWC, A. Lange & Sohne, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget) as well as Zurich Insurance and prestigious auction house Bonhams.




Well, we are all for alleviating risk and encouraging first class intelligence, especially in the timekeeping circle. With a guaranteed two year repair, replace or refund programme depending on when a customer bought the watch, Audemars Piguet are leading the way in watch crime. Although at the trial stage, they are monitoring the situation closely which could be further expanded subject to the client uptake. 

It seems that many big luxury brands are following suit when it comes to the secondary market. Guaranteeing security is one thing but this is now being developed into a major authenticity drive, reflected via Audemars Piguet, Richemont and the introduction of the certified pre-owned programme by Rolex in Q4 of 2022. What’s our view? It’s safe to say many more luxury brands will soon board the horological train to offer similar promises down the line.

If you want to buy a watch or sell a watch, you can rely on Chrono Hunter to offer the most safest and secure platform, meaning your purchase or sale is in the safest hands. Just check out our 900-plus five star Trustpilot reviews, demonstrating we should be your go-to site. Simply enter the details via our online form or download our dedicated app to receive multiple offers straight away from our trusted network of luxury retailers. For further information or to contact our expert team, contact us here.


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Further Reading:

Is This Audemars Piguet’s Answer To The “Tiffany” Patek Philippe Nautilus? Introducing The Royal Oak 37mm Turquoise Dial

Chrono Hunter’s Must-Have Panda Dial Chronographs


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