Frequently Asked Questions
Searching the database
How can I search your database?
You can request a one-off search using the form on our website here. Lists of watches can be searched using the Bulk Upload function here. Alternatively, you can submit searches via WhatsApp/SMS after purchasing a ‘Text or Web’ credit bundle here. See texting instructions here.
We offer API integration for larger businesses, please contact us for more information.
How much does a search cost? Are there discounts for bulk?
A one-off search costs £10 / €13 / $13. Users searching in bulk receive discounted rates from as little as £1.77 / €2.10 / $2.13 per watch. These prices exclude VAT.
How quickly do I get the results of a search?
We have a team of watch experts who check the serial number you submit within 5 minutes and contact you if we need further information to ensure accurate results. We operate this service 09.00 – 18.00 UK time, Monday to Saturday. In 2023, we are launching an automated search service supported by our expert team to provide instantaneous results 24/7 to all users globally.
How do you send me the results of my search?
We provide you with a PDF Certificate for the watch if all our checks are clear. The Watch Register Certificate proves you have checked the most comprehensive theft database available for watches and demonstrates a good faith transaction. You will receive an email or WhatsApp/SMS notification with a link to download the Certificate via your web account. If there is a match for a lost or stolen watch on our database we will contact you.
What does a ‘No Match’ Certificate mean?
No Match means that the watch serial number you have searched has not been reported to us as lost or stolen.
Please note that not every loss or theft is reported, therefore to ensure the best protection you should also check the credentials of your seller, the ownership history and the authenticity of the watch. An invoice should be kept for every purchase.
How long is the Certificate valid for?
The Certificate confirms the search result on the date of issue. We recommend another database search is carried out at the point of future sale to obtain an up-to-date result.
Do I need to search watches with box and papers?
Yes. Every pre-owned watch should be checked against the database before purchase. One third of the stolen watches we locate are offered with box and papers. These are often stolen with the watch, e.g. by means of fraud or during shipment. Buyers should also be aware of the risk of fake paperwork.
Will you tell me if the watch is authentic?
Our database includes serial numbers used on fake watches. We will notify you if the serial number you are searching is associated with counterfeits. It is then your responsibility to check the authenticity of the watch in question. We cannot give a definitive judgment on watch authenticity as we do not physically inspect watches.
What are your sources of lost and stolen watch data?
We receive our data from police forces, insurance companies and theft victims globally who report lost and stolen watches to us. We work closely with police forces in watch crime hotspots such as the Metropolitan Police in London, NYPD, LAPD and Hong Kong Police. The relationships that we have developed with law enforcement, insurers and industry partners over 30 years as part of our parent company the Art Loss Register has built trust with these key organisations and gives us access to historic loss records as well as current thefts. Our database also includes stolen watch data from the anti-jewellery crime initiative SaferGems.
Do you have international coverage?
Yes. We operate internationally which is essential as watches quickly move across borders. Our service is used by the leading global auction houses as well as dealerships, pawnbrokers and collectors around the world.
What happens in the event of a ‘match’?
If a serial number you searched matches one on our database we will contact you and a) request that you hold the watch securely if it is in your possession, and b) provide us with the contact details of your seller, which you have agreed to do under our T&Cs of Search. Our specialist recoveries team will handle the next steps, by liaising with the party that reported the loss and your seller in order to resolve the matter.
I have been given one of your Certificates with a watch I’m looking to buy. Does this protect me?
You should always conduct your own search on the day of your purchase or ask the seller you are buying from to do so. This is important to ensure an up-to-date result, as the status of the watch may have changed since the previous Certificate was issued.
Registering a loss
How do I report a loss or theft to you?
To report a watch, fill out the loss registration form on our website here. If you are looking to register a large loss of 10 watches or more, please contact us.
How much does a watch registration cost?
We charge a one-off admin fee of £15 / €17.50 / $17.50 per watch to review your registration. These prices exclude VAT. Your registration request will be vetted by our team and the watch will be added to our database if proof of loss and a unique serial number is provided. After that we only charge a finder’s fee if your watch is located by us and successfully recovered (see Location Fee and Recovery Fee below), i.e. we work on a no win no fee basis.
What information do you require from me to register a lost or stolen watch on the database?
Firstly, we must have the serial number of the watch and/or a personal inscription which allows the watch to be uniquely identified. Secondly, we require proof of loss in the form of a crime reference number and/or an insurance claim. Additionally, please provide a copy of all documentation proving your ownership.
What if I can’t find the unique serial number of my watch?
Check the purchase or servicing receipt for your watch, or contact the store/person who you purchased the watch from to ask if they have the serial number. If you have sent the watch for servicing then the manufacturer may have a record of the serial number.
What if I don’t have a crime reference number or insurance claim number?
Please contact us on +44 207 841 5781 to discuss your claim.
I have just reported my theft to the police and am waiting for my crime reference number. Can I register already?
Yes. If the watch was stolen (not lost), report the watch to us immediately via our Loss Registration form here, then send us the crime reference number by email as soon as you receive it. Watches can be re-sold within hours of the theft, so it is vital that you report to us without delay so that we can identify your watch at the earliest opportunity.
Can I register any brand of watch?
Yes. You can register any brand of watch as long as it has a unique serial number or personal inscription.
Can I register a loss from a long time ago?
Watches should be registered with us as soon as possible after the loss, but if you have just heard of us you can still register it today via our Loss Registration form here.
How do you go about finding my watch?
We carry out extensive checks on the international pre-owned market, so there is a very good chance that we will locate your watch. In 2022 we located 620 lost and stolen watches among the 150,000 watches that we checked on the market. We find watches when they are offered for sale on specialist watch trading platforms, or to dealers, pawnbrokers, auction houses and private individuals. At the point of transaction the serial number is checked against our database. At that moment we know the location of the watch and our specialist recoveries team make immediate attempts to secure it so that it can be returned to you, the rightful owner.
If you find my watch will you notify me?
If we find your watch our specialist recoveries team will contact you directly to tell you the news. We will liaise with you on the next steps and offer you our assistance and expertise in the recovery process if required.
What is the ‘Location Fee’ and ‘Recovery Fee’?
We work on a no win no fee basis. That means that you only pay a fee if we locate your watch and it is successfully returned to you or a sum secured for your benefit from the recovery.
When we locate your watch we offer you two options: 1) We put you in touch with the current holder and you recover the watch yourself or with the help of the police. For this we charge a Location Fee of 5% of the ultimate net benefit to you – only upon successful recovery. 2) You appoint us to represent you in the recovery process and our specialist team handles the recovery of the watch. We will put forward a claim on your behalf and liaise with all relevant parties to secure the best possible result for you. For this we charge a Recovery Fee of 20% of the ultimate net benefit to you – only upon successful recovery.
The ultimate net benefit is calculated on the current market value of the watch. We charge only one fee – either Location or Recovery Fee – not both.
Please see our T&Cs of Registration here.
Do you charge a fee if I find my watch myself or it is recovered by the police?
No. We only charge a fee if we find your watch. If you find the watch yourself or recover it with the help of the police, you just need to contact us to let us know and we will update our database.
Can I register my ownership of a watch (pre-loss)?
This is not a service that we currently offer. You should you keep a record of your serial number and photos of your watch, paperwork and receipt so that if you do suffer a loss you can quickly send us this information to enable a recovery.