The watch industry can’t seem to catch a break.
Last week, a Watchfinder & Co. report found that over a million counterfeit timepieces are circulating throughout the U.K., with 40 million fake pieces being sold worldwide annually. Now, new data compiled by the Watch Register, a database for lost and stolen wrist candy, says luxury watches worth more than $1.3 billion have been reported as missing or pilfered—and it appears robberies are on the rise.
6,815 watches were placed the Watch Register last year, marking a 60 percent increase from 2021 thefts, Bloomberg reports. The company, which has been collecting stats for over 30 years, has nearly 80,000 timepieces registered as lost or stolen overall.
Rolex tops the list as the most-nabbed luxury watch brand, with a whopping 44 percent of the Watch Register’s database consisting of pieces from the company. Omega falls into second place at 7 percent, with Breitling, TAG Heuer, and Cartier trailing behind at 6 percent, 5 percent, and 4 percent, respectively. Patek Philippe rounds out the group, making up just 3 percent of last year’s stolen pieces, according to the Watch Register.
“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,” Katya Hills, the Watch Register’s managing director, told Bloomberg.
Law enforcement around the globe are reporting an uptick in larceny, with some attempting to crack down on the illegal activity. In the U.S., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported over 200 robberies involving at least one watch worth $5,000 or more from January to mid-November last year. And after 667 Rolexes were reported stolen between January and September 2022 within London’s city limits, the Metropolitan Police Service launched a special task force to deal specifically with luxury watch theft. Paris authorities began a similar initiative in the same year.