This week’s Wednesday Watch is not about a particular watch. Instead, we will be giving you some tips for safe watch collecting. We want to give you these tips as some of our watch friends were either robbed or have fallen victim to burglary in the past few weeks. Some of these tips may sound like open doors, but these need to be kicked-in some times as well. Perhaps you recognize some of the flaws in safe collecting and hopefully you will find them useful and start ‘collecting’ accordingly.
Insurance is one of the first things that should be taken care of. Like jewelry and art, watches are subject to an additional insurance policy on top of your fire and theft insurance. The standard fire and theft insurance probably does include a small amount for watches and jewelry, but barely enough to recover one Rolex Submariner. Our advice is to shop around and make sure you properly insure all of your watches. You will most likely need an appraisal report, which a jeweler can create for you as long as you are able to give them all the details on your watch, including serial numbers, etc. In some countries, creating appraisal reports might be a protected activity or title; please be aware of that. The appraiser will need the actual watch(es) to take pictures of as well.
Furthermore, make sure to document as much as possible about your watches. Take pictures of them and zoom-in on the specific details. Certain dents, scratches, nicks, or whatever makes your watch unique and easy to identify should be documented. Also, record all serial numbers, movement numbers, reference numbers, or whatever else the manufacturer may number. In case of loss, you can mail these numbers to the manufacturer so that if they receive the watch for service or repair; they know it has been stolen. Also, you can post these numbers together with pictures of the watch on the various watch forums, Facebook pages, and blogs. By verifying numbers online, buyers can determine if they have purchased a stolen watch.
Keep your watches, original boxes, and paperwork separated. It is not likely that thieves are going to go through all of the things that you have in the basement, so make sure that you store the boxes and papers somewhere safe. This way, the watches will immediately lose value and you have all the serial, reference, and/ or movement numbers in original printing.
Alternatively, instead of keeping watches and boxes separated, using a safe or vault is a better option. A safe of vault may also lower the insurance premium. There are companies that specialize in specific watch vaults with embedded winders, cushions etc. If you have an extensive collection of watches, such a vault might be beneficial. Otherwise, try to get a safe at your local bank building/office. For approximately 100 USD a year, you can store your watches in one of the safest places ever. It will cost you more effort to switch watches, but will give you peace of mind when you are away from home (for a longer period). Not all banks are offering this service or are offering it in very limited numbers. Personally, I negotiated this when signing up for my mortgage and insurance products at my local bank.
When you are an avid collector or watch enthusiast, be careful with posting photos on the internet of your entire collection. With LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media, it is relatively easy to find out where someone lives or frequents. Our advice is to refrain from collecting pictures of your whole collection on-line and using your real name or other parameters that will make it easy to locate you.
If you are trading watches, do not invite people over to your home address to buy and sell watches. The most recent example is a man that was robbed of three expensive timepieces he had for sale on a (national) market website, and met with a potential buyer in his house. He survived, but lost three beautiful watches. It could have been worse though. One way to avoid this is to use public places such as a hotel lobby, restaurant, or try to find a local watch shop where you can do the deal (some of them are open to this, especially when you ask them to proof authenticity of the watch to the potential buyer).
Last but not least, consider getting an alarm in your home. It will at least make thieves think twice before entering your house. These are available starting at a few hundred dollars for very advanced configurations. These days, even the inexpensive versions have an automatic dial-out using a cellular SIM-card.
In the worst case, if they do rob you in your own home or on the streets, do not hesitate to hand over your property to help prevent you from being harmed. Even though your timepiece may hold personal significance and/or monetary value, it is a possession at the end of the day and not as valuable as your life. If you do get a safe chance though, shoot them.
Tips for Safe Watch Collecting Gallery
Also, if you have additional tips or information, do not hesitate to use the comment field below, to help other watch collectors as well.