Luxury wrist watches have long been seen as a real status symbol and the most luxurious are incredibly desirable to the public. The most desirable watches have sold for incredible sums and those one-of-a-kind unique watches have often ended up being donated to institutes of art. While most people will enjoy admiring them on someone else’s wrist or on display at an art institution – many want to acquire them for themselves! Sometimes through less than legal means!
As Andy Carroll recently found, there are some people who cannot handle others having something they cannot afford! Thankfully, the watch thief who attempted to take hold of the West Ham striker’s watch was arrested and will face time in jail. But some watch thieves managed to take a lot more than one watch – and some of them managed to avoid ever being caught. Today we’ll look at some of the famous watch heists throughout history!
The Marie Antoinette Watch
The full story of the Marie Antoinette Watch has been covered on the blog once before – and what a story it is! The watch was created for the French Queen, known for her incredibly expensive taste by Abraham-Louis Breguet. Unfortunately she never managed to lay her eyes on the watch as it wasn’t completed till after her death. The watch ended up at an art museum in Jerusalem during the 20th century and it was there where an incredible development in the story of this watch took place. It ended up being stolen by the world famous thief Na’aman Diller.
How this – and many other of Diller’s watch heists – were carried out so successfully is still shrouded in mystery because the watches he stole were not discovered until after his death. But it appears that he managed to sneak in undetected with no security personnel present to stop him. Diller always spent his time studying his targets, which helped him get in and out of the museum without tripping any of the alarms.
It was thought that this watch, along with all of the watches from Diller’s other watch heists, were never going to be found. The watch remained missing until 2007 when an American woman, who did not realise that she was married to one of the most famous thieves in the world, made a call to disclose the location of a box of missing watches. The location had been disclosed to her on Diller’s deathbed and she had made the decision to return them all. The watch is now back on display at the L.A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art – and hopefully that is where it will stay!
The Heist in Cannes!
Na’aman Diller’s tactic in his watch heists was to sneak in undetected when nobody was around. Unfortunately that wouldn’t have worked quite as well today with all sorts of security cameras and equipment around. Or at least we would like to think that was the case! In 2015, four masked men managed to burst in and steal $20 million worth of watches and jewellery from the Cannes Film Festival. The Cartier exhibit was the target of the four robbers who took advantage of relevantly lax security considering the value of the items being held.
Cartier seem to be a popular target for jewellery and watch heists, in 2014 and 2017 their stores in Cannes have been held up by armed robbers. This may be because their creations are just too desirable, causing people to turn to a life of crime to obtain them. Or it may be the case that they need to invest in much better security measures!
Heist on a Plane!
Carrying expensive watches about can certainly be a dangerous task, especially if certain individuals know that you have them. This was a revelation discovered by Andy Carroll very recently – and also a very expensive lesson learned by a businessman travelling in China early in 2016. He was travelling with an estimated $257,860 worth of jewellery and watches, including a timepieces from Rolex and Patek Philippe. You’d imagine that it’s not easy to travel with possessions of this value – and you’d be right to think that! This unfortunate businessman was the victim of one of the most elaborate watch heists of all time when he found that all of his valuable watches and jewellery were stolen from him in-flight!
It’s difficult to know what to do if you have a lot of valuable watches. Leave them at home, they may get stolen – take them with you… they may also get stolen during a flight! The lesson from this story may be that the only way to be safe is to invest in clothing which will allow you to carry all of your jewellery as close to your body as possible!