Rolex danger? You bet your life . . . “Three men pulled out guns and robbed [LA Lakers’ Guard] Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in a terrifying incident in Los Angeles earlier this month,” tmz.com reports . . .
“The Lakers guard was in his driveway at around 4 a.m. talking with friends. Our sources say a car pulled up and three men then exited the vehicle with guns drawn. We’re told the men demanded KCP and his friends hand over their stuff which included a fancy Rolex watch, jewelry and an iPhone.”
As the founder and editor of The Truth About Guns, I was completely immersed in the world of self-defense. One of the most common shibboleths: nothing good happens past two a.m. True! Hanging out in your driveway at four a.m. is not a recipe for personal safety – especially if you’re a celebrity. Which, I assume, you’re not.
But don’t be blasé about Rolex danger. You know: “interesting story but it’s got nothing to do with me. I’m not an NBA player or a Kardashian.”Wrong. This could be you.
If, that is, you wear an expensive watch. Specifically, a Rolex. A watch that attracts thugs like a porch light attracts moths. But not just a Rolex. nydailynews.com:
A pair of armed robbers took a man’s $41,000 wristwatch as he walked out of a Washington Heights salon, then shot at the victim after he tried to chase the thieves. “Just let it go,” one of the thieves told the 28-year-old victim after they ambushed him on W. 162nd St. near Broadway about 5:25 p.m. Monday.
They pistol-whipped him and took his $41,000 Audemars Piguet watch and a $5,000 Cuban gold-link chain necklace, cops said.The duo then got into a gray sedan and headed east on W. 162nd St., cops said. When the victim gave chase, one of the robbers fired off several rounds from the car window to scare him off, cops said. No one was hit.
As a gun guy, let me assure you that bad guys shoot bullets at victims for the same reason good guys shoot bullets at bad guys: to stop them. Not warn. Stop. With extreme prejudice. But again, don’t get to thinking it wazzunt me. “I wouldn’t have chased the robbers. I would have emerged unscathed.”
The advice there is the same as the advice here: if you don’t want to put a target on your back (wrist), don’t wear a Rolex, Patek Philippe, Richard Mille or any other watch that screams MONEY. If you do, avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. Like the plague. And put your head on a swivel, as they say.
Now let’s talk about the manufacturers’ responsibility to combat this deadly – yes deadly – threat to their customers . . .
On one hand, they don’t have any. Caveat emptor. Buyer beware. It’s not Geneva’s job to protect against Rolex danger. It’s your job not to be a target and/or have some way to fight back against a robber (My take: a firearm where it’s allowed, Krav Maga where it’s not.)
On the other hand . . .
In the video above, watch dealer Paul Thorpe points out that Rolex used to have a public stolen and lost Rolex registry. Now they don’t. It’s restricted to authorized Rolex watch dealers. “Right now it’s impossible for independent watch dealers or members of the public to check any potential purchase against the official lost and stolen register.”
Mr. Thorpe ain’t just whistling Dixie (not a PC expression anymore, but you get my point). As long as there’s an easy market for stolen Rolex – and other high end timepieces – the “industry” of stealing them will continue. Actually, it’s getting worse; the pandemic pretty much eliminated the practice of carrying cash. A Rolex is now the mugger’s best friend.
Needless to say, all luxury watchmakers should have a publicly available register of lost and stolen watches. The reason they don’t? They don’t want to bring this epidemic to the public’s attention. They reckon a list of tens of thousands of stolen watches would ding sales. Profit before people. Like that.
Manufacturers might defend their inaction by pointing out that there is a U.K.-based stolen watch registry that “offers a database search service to retailers, pawnbrokers, jewellers, auction houses and collectors.” You can round down to zero the percentage of private buyers who use the service before purchasing a watch.
And no wonder. They have to stump-up $15 per search. In any case, The Watch Register – notice the lack of the word “stolen” in their name – reveals the astounding scope of the problem.
THE WATCH REGISTER database currently lists over 70,000 lost and stolen watches, and is growing rapidly. Watches by over 850 different brands, manufacturers and watchmakers are registered on the database, including Rolex (25,000), Omega, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Breitling, TAG Heuer, IWC, Franck Muller, Panerai, Breguet, Bremont, Hublot, Girard Perregaux, Piaget, Jaeger LeCoultre, Zenith, Richard Mille, A. Lange & Sohne, Baume & Mercier, etc.
The Watch Register claims to have located – not returned – 312 stolen watches in 2020. That’s less than half of one percent of the watches in the database. An infinitesimal percentage of the stolen watches not in the database.
Clearly, a free, searchable, manufacturer-run lost and stolen watch registry would be the most effective way to combat the market for purloined timepieces.
Unless and until watch blogs, buyers, dealers, insurance companies and law enforcement authorities demand such a database, it won’t happen. Leaving you with two options: don’t wear a Rolex or similar or be prepared for the possibility that your watch may cost you a lot more than money.