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Watch thieves manage to coup millions - Watchmaster goes bankrupt
Pre-owned watch retailer Watchmaster pushed into insolvency by slump.
At 8 p.m. on November 19, the vault of a former private bank in Fasanenstrasse, Berlin, where, among other things, the Watchmaster company keeps its watches and those of its customers in lockers, was broken into. Around a thousand used luxury watches were stolen from the lockers in this way by the unknown burglars. They appear to have been less successful in attempting to set a fire to remove evidence. Surveillance cameras recorded images of the perpetrators, which the police are now using for the search. The fact that the suspected burglars had appeared publicly at the target property the day before and posed as new security staff in order to obtain security codes, which they succeeded in doing, indicates a planned approach.
It's over after only seven years
Despite coverage by insurance, the blow to the Watchmaster company is apparently so significant that the company management decided to immediately go into insolvency (insolvency and liquidation of the business). The legal step to this was taken just ten days after the burglary on November 29th at the district court in Berlin. Watchmaster was founded in 2015, first as a dealer of new watches, then two years later as a reseller of pre-owned luxury watches on behalf of its customers. For these, the company rented lockers for safekeeping in the vaults that have now been looted. In addition to the main building, Watchmaster has branches in Paris and London with a total of 75 employees. The value of the stolen watches was given as around 10 million euros, which, given 1,000 pieces, would result in an average value of a thousand euros per watch. No information was given on the losses of other tenants of lockers, if any, but it can be assumed that not only Watchmaster lockers were emptied. The former bank is said to have about 1200 lockers in the building.
Insurance does not fully cover damage
According to its own statements, Watchmaster ICP GmbH regards itself as the largest retailer of luxury watches traded with certificates of authenticity. Some of the stolen watches were owned by Watchmaster itself, but most were kept on commission for clients and intended for sale by Watchmaster. Reportedly, the insurance covers the pure value of these watches, but not what Watchmaster has invested in them beyond the purchase price, namely in the processing, certification and its sales efforts. Apparently, these losses, which are not covered by insurance, are so considerable that the only option left is going into insolvency. In a published statement, it said that under these circumstances, the company "would no longer be able to make a positive going concern forecast".
Color used against the cameras
The images from the surveillance cameras showed that the perpetrators were also wearing the uniforms of a security company, hidden under FPP2 face masks, before they made the cameras non-functional with spray paint. It is not known whether and how the burglars, who were familiar with the location and security technology, made an expert selection from the watches, but only half of all 2000 luxury watches stored by Watchmaster were stolen, so the other half were left behind. A reward of 5,000 euros was offered by the Berlin police for relevant information.