Over £1 billion worth of luxury watches are registered as stolen or missing


Global crime prevention database has recorded over 80,000 stolen watches on its database

Total value of stolen or missing luxury watches amounts to over £1 billion

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

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

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.