THE WATCH PROFESSIONAL CORNER - Fighting crime, one watch at a time

January 2016

The Watch Register is a new database of over 50,000 timepieces, providing a search and register service to encourage the trade to carry out due diligence, to recover stolen watches and help prevent thefts.

The Watch Register is a new service offered by the Art Loss Register. Operating from London since 1990, the Art Loss Register is the largest private database in the world of lost or stolen antiques and collectibles. By now it has information on half a million items, including paintings, sculptures, watches, jewellery, books, coins and more. Its new watch-focused service is of benefit to any seller - like dealers, auction houses and pawnbrokers - because it allows them to perform fast and effortless due diligence by checking with the legitimacy of a watch prior to any transaction. It minimizes risk and also helps safeguard their reputation and guarantees the confidence of the customers. For buyers, it allows private individuals to buy with confidence by checking the serial number of any second-hand watch with the Watch Register.

THE WATCH PROFESSIONAL CORNER - Fighting crime, one watch at a time

On the flip side, if your watch has been stolen, registering it on the Watch Register offers the best chance of finding it in the future. In fact, insurers also use the system to register stolen watches to reduce their chances of paying out, by finding the watch first.
So how does it work? The Watch Register section of the database today holds some 50,000 registered timepieces, which are reported lost or stolen by police, insurers, private individuals and tradespeople. To register a timepiece, its serial number is required. Individuals are asked to pay a small fee of about $15 per item in order to register their loss, which remains in the database at no extra cost until it is recovered. So far, the database carries details of watches by all the leading brands, including Rolex (13,000 items, alone), Patek Philippe, Cartier, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Breitling, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, TAG Heuer, Vacheron Constantin and many more.

The database can be checked by anyone who subscribes to the service from as little as £2 per search (they also offer annual subscriptions for greater volume searches). A fast and simple search service is available throughout the day, which can be used directly from your mobile phone or email, to confirm whether or not the item is registered on the database. Response time is usually within minutes.

In the event of a match, the Watch Register informs you immediately, requests for you to hold the watch and contact the relevant law enforcement agency. If the current holder of a stolen item has acted in good faith, they also assist in negotiating an amicable settlement with the claimant. If not, you’re in trouble, because the Watch Register will work with the police to make a conviction where possible! In fact, they already have a long history of working with agencies like the FBI, Interpol, and metropolitan police services.

In a luxury goods sector with increasing volume, there is an increased likelihood of criminal activity. This service is one step towards the overall aim of reducing crime in the watch industry. And so far, property worth hundreds of millions of pounds has been recovered by the Art Loss Register. But for a system like this to be really effective, every watch on the market needs to be registered, so the more the better. To sign up, visit the Watch Register.

Source: Europa Star December/January 2016 Magazine issue