Watch thieves pull off a million-dollar coup - Watchmaster goes bankrupt
Fine used watch dealer Watchmaster driven into bankruptcy by burglary.
On November 19th at 8 p.m., the vault of a former private bank on Fasanenstrasse, Berlin, where, among other things, the Watchmaster company keeps its and its customers' watches in safe deposit boxes, was broken into. Around a thousand used luxury watches were stolen from the lockers in this way by the unknown burglars. They seem to have been less successful in trying to start a fire to remove evidence. Surveillance cameras recorded images of the perpetrators, which the police are now using to search for them. The fact that the suspected burglars had appeared publicly at the target property the day before and posed as new security employees in order to obtain security codes, which they succeeded in doing, indicates that the procedure was planned.
It ended after just seven years
Despite being covered by insurance, the blow to the Watchmaster company is apparently so significant that the company management decided to immediately go into insolvency (insolvency and business dissolution). The legal step was taken just ten days after the break-in on November 29th at the Berlin District Court. Watchmaster was founded in 2015, initially as a dealer of new watches, then two years later as a reseller of used luxury watches on behalf of its customers. The company rented lockers for safekeeping in the now looted vaults. In addition to the main company, Watchmaster has branches in Paris and London with a total of 75 employees. The value of the stolen watches was said to be around 10 million euros, which for 1,000 pieces would result in an average value of one thousand euros per watch. No information was provided regarding the losses of other locker tenants, if any, but it is likely that it was not just Watchmaster's lockers that were emptied. The former bank is said to have around 1,200 lockers in the building.
Insurance does not fully cover damage
Watchmaster ICP GmbH claims to be the largest retailer of luxury watches that are traded with certificates of authenticity. Some of the stolen watches were owned by Watchmaster itself, while the majority were kept on consignment for clients and intended for sale by Watchmaster. Reportedly, the pure value of these watches is covered by the insurance, but not what Watchmaster invested in them beyond the purchase price, namely in preparation, certification and its sales efforts. Apparently these losses, which are not covered by insurance, are so significant that the only option was to go bankrupt. In a published statement it was said that under these circumstances the company "would no longer be able to provide a positive continuation forecast".
Color used against the cameras
The images from the surveillance cameras showed that the perpetrators were wearing the uniforms of a security company, hidden under FPP2 face masks, before they disabled the cameras with paint sprays. It is not known whether and how the burglars, who were familiar with the location and security technology, made an expert selection of the watches, but only half of all 2,000 luxury watches stored by Watchmaster were stolen, and the other half were left behind. A reward of 5,000 euros was offered by the Berlin police for relevant information.