Databases/registries free to search:
– The Alpha Hands stolen watch registry
– Watchuseek Stolen Watch Report
– Elite Timepieces Stolen Watch Database (formerly Watchsearcher). Unknown how compiled, no information on pieces in database.
– TZ-UK: Lost and Found
Databases/registries requiring payment to search:
– The Watch Register, from the Art Loss Register. Search fee: £10 + VAT. Claims 70k timepieces in database as of April 2020.
– MyStolenWatch. Search fee: 5 Euro. Claims 30k timepieces in database as of April 2020.
These paid registries do not provide a breakdown of number of watches by manufacturer in their database
I have a different philosophy than others around posting stolen watch information. I post everything to be completely transparent (what types of pieces, how many are in the database, detail on the pieces, etc.), make the database easily searchable (a simple google query can find without a need to log into different websites), and free. The information is all publicly available, so there is not any concern over privacy – individuals with losses have either already posted the pieces as stolen, or have provided the details and approval to share basic information on the timepiece.
Some sites do not post stolen watch information openly as they believe in doing so the thieves would see they are listed, and they will be less likely to put the piece up for sale (publicly),…or so they can charge for access, you decide. And without open access, the natural consequence is that fewer stolen pieces will be returned to their owners. Others believe showing serial numbers will allow thieves to re-use them on made-up pieces.
And to help find your watch in the event it is stolen or lost, ALWAYS keep up-to-date information for your watches, including:
– Numbers!! Serial/case and movement numbers. It is incredible how many people don’t keep these. It won’t help much to post “Stolen: Rolex Daytona” without additional information, unfortunately.
– Any distinctive marks or engraving
– Seller information
– Photos of the watch, preferably with movement and interior caseback images. If you don’t work on or open your watch, ask your watchmaker to take some pictures when you have your watch serviced.
– …and you have insured your watch, right?
If your watch is stolen, you should:
– File a police report – without this, you have little chance of recovery
– Post to watch forums and databases listed above
– Contact manufacturer (they may not care, but at least you tried!)
– Set up alerts on eBay and forums in the event that a watch comes for sale matching the description of your stolen watch
ALWAYS search the web for the watch you are interesting in purchasing. You may be able to find prior sales, or perhaps even that that watch is stolen. Don’t count on auction houses or the seller to do this work for you, because if you do, you might find yourself bidding on a stolen watch available at auction.