Reselling stolen items has always been a huge market, with certain goods favored for their solid returns. The pandemic pushed criminals to go after bigger ticket items, and watches became the main attraction. While not any brand will do, luxury timepieces are the most sought-after to snag, and the one and only Rolex is leading the others as the most stolen watch of choice. If you were planning on investing in a Rolex anytime soon, maybe wait until you know the details, as reported by The Watch Register Index about the skyrocketing theft of these luxurious watches.
- Rolex has been the top stolen brand year over year for the last three years.
- 44% of watch thefts are Rolexes.
The rise of the Rolex thefts started in 2020, jumping in 2021, but saw a ridiculous theft increase of 60% in 2022, clocking over 6,800 luxury watches reported stolen that year to The Watch Register Index. Compared to the same timeframe, 2023 could end with over a 77% hike over the year before. Yikes.
With Rolex making up almost half of the thefts, if you own one, you need to lock it up, and if you are looking to buy one, you need to think about a plan to keep it safe.
Where your watch could get stolen the most
- In 2023 alone, the U.S. accounted for 9% of all luxury watch thefts.
- Germany reports 9% of empty wrists.
- An astounding 47% of thieves look for watches to grab in England.
England sure loves their luxury wristwatches, and criminals sure love them for it, with almost half of all watch thefts happening there.
While Rolex is the main men’s watch brand criminals are going after, it isn’t the only one.
- Omega makes up 7% of thefts.
- Breitling goes missing 6% of the time.
- Tag Heuer sees 5% of criminal hands.
- Cartier gets grabbed 4% of the time.
- Patek Philippe is picked by thieves 3% in total.
Okay, all those brands combined don’t even come near how often Rolex gets stolen, but it’s still important to know which luxury watches are sought after. But the resale market of stolen wristwatches is a giant business, as it saw around $1.3 billion worldwide exchange hands last year. That’s pretty impressive when the watches sold the legal way are a $75 billion business.
The trend to steal men’s watches is growing
This could be because the age range of customers is dropping, with those 35 years old and younger being the largest buying group. Maybe the younger crowd doesn’t put them away like they should, or maybe they wear them in places that make them a more vulnerable target.
All buyers should register their watch
Buyers are registering their timepieces and reporting theft more than ever as well. The Watch Register Index, the place that keeps track of luxury watches, saw a spike of 106% of U.S. watch owners reporting pieces stolen this year compared to last. In the over 30 years The Watch Register Index has been operating, they’ve had over 80,000 watches registered as stolen or lost.
Crime rings have become a bit more sophisticated over the years, making the jump from retail clothing stores to pricey wrist candy due to the price tag. If your watch of choice happens to be a luxury brand like Rolex, make sure you register it, keep it safe, and maybe don’t post about your watch on social media.
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