Worried About Buying a Stolen Watch? Richemont Wants to Help

Jerome Lamberg, CEO of Richemont, wants to make it harder to sell stolen watches.

Woman wipes display case holding three watches.
The platform aims to tackle growing thefts. AFP via Getty Images.

A new database from Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods conglomerate behind companies like Cartier, Montblanc, Van Cleef and Chloé, aims to help customers ensure that their potential watch and jewelry purchases are clean.

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a rel="nofollow noreferer" href="http://observermedia.com/terms">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

Enquirus is a “neutral, global, digital platform designed to help reduce watch and jewelry related crime,” said Richemont in a press release. Owners of any luxury brand watch can report lost or stolen items to the platform by registering the item’s serial number. Meanwhile, customers who are considering buying a watch or piece of jewelry can subsequently search Enquirus’s database in order to check if potential purchases have been subject to theft.

The platform was created in order to tackle “an increase in theft and fraud of watches and jewelry, along with the lack of a clear process and industry standard of how and where to register them,” according to Enquirus’ website.

Watch theft has reportedly been on the rise in cities such as Los Angeles, which saw 112 thefts of watches valued at $5,000 or more in the first half of 2022, a 50 percent increase over the previous year. And more than $100¬† million worth of jewelry is stolen in the U.S. each year, according to the FBI’s Jewelry and Gem Theft Program.

More than 28,000 watches and jewelry items have already been registered as lost or stolen to Enquirus, which launched on March 30 and has preloaded information on 175 different luxury watch brands.

How will the database recover stolen watches?

“This reliable solution brings together multiple stakeholders to serve customers and the entire industry, by facilitating cooperation between police forces and insurance partners,” said Jerome Lamberg, CEO of Richemont, in a statement. “By providing free access for customers and industry partners, the opportunity to sell stolen watches becomes more prohibitive, with the ultimate objective of reducing the incentive to steal watches in the first place.”

Richemont designed the platform alongside insurance and law enforcement agencies, which can use the database for recovery cases. Police forces across Europe, including agencies in Paris and Geneva, have already registered with Enquirius, which said it will onboard additional police departments in the coming months.

The database has additionally partnered with insurance companies such as the UK’s LMG Jewelry and Switzerland’s Zurich Insurance and luxury auction houses like the London-based Bonhams.

“Our goal is to bring onboard as many industry players as possible, as well as the police departments of all the major cities in the world, to make Enquirus the largest international database of lost and stolen watches and jewelry,” said Frank Vivier, chief transformation officer at Richemont, in a statement.

The value of luxury second-hand watches rose dramatically during the pandemic, with auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips seeing sales double between 2020 and 2022.

However, increased inventory and the instabilities of the current economic environment has reportedly led to a dip in market prices in recent months, with the most popular models from watch companies Rolex and Patek Philippe falling by 21 percent and 19 percent respectively since April 2022.

Worried About Buying a Stolen Watch? Richemont Wants to Help