The luxury industry is doing what it can to combat an influx in watch-related crimes.
Less than a week after Richemont launched a secure online database to help fight watch and jewelry theft, Audemars Piguet announced a new program to keep its timepieces on collectors’ wrists.
The Swiss watchmaker guarantees that it will repair, refund, or replace stolen or damaged watches purchased in 2022 or 2023 for a period of two years from the date of purchase, as reported by Bloomberg. This is reportedly the first time in horological history that a major watch brand has initiated such a service.
So, how does it work? If a watch is stolen, the client must first prove that they bought (and owned) the piece. They will have to provide a photo of the watch and its serial number, as well as a police report regarding the theft.
Once AP is satisfied, it will either offer a refund (up to $73,000) or a replacement of the stolen item. If the watch in question is no longer produced, the client will be provided with a similar model from the current collection. It’s worth noting that any models that have been resold are not covered under the new plan.
“We listen to our clients and we have to look also at what’s going on in the world right now,” AP’s CEO François-Henry Bennahmias told Bloomberg. “We have important cities in Europe and in the U.S. that are not as safe anymore.”
Bennahmias is not wrong. At the end of 2021, a gang known as the “Rolex Rippers” started targetting wealthy men wearing Rollies in London. There was also a band of robbers Stateside scooping Rolexes off the wrists of Bay Area residents back in August. Thieves in the U.K. have even started using social media to rip off watch enthusiasts. It comes as pre-owned pieces by the likes of Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet continue to sell for hefty sums on the secondary market.
AP says it will initially carry out the program as a trial, but may extend it depending on the number of clients who use it. Bennahmias says it is a “big, big move” because no one has ever done it. But given how many brands followed AP’s example in starting its own certified pre-owned program, perhaps it won’t be the last.