Audemars Piguet Watches Seized in Response to Sanctions

In apparent retaliation for Switzerland’s sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, Russian secret service officers seized millions of dollars in luxury watches from a Swiss watchmaker, Audemars Piguet.

The watches were seized from an Audemars Piguet subsidiary in Moscow earlier this month.

Audemars Piguet is a family-owned watchmaker with a roughly 150-year history, and the brand’s premium watches often cost tens of thousands of dollars to purchase.

Switzerland broke its long-standing neutrality on February 28 to censure Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which includes a ban on the shipment of luxury items to Russia as one of the restrictions.

According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, Russia was the 17th largest market for Swiss watch exports in 2021, accounting for 260.1 million francs ($278.6 million) in shipments.

The watches were reportedly seized by Russian authorities for customs violations, but Switzerland’s foreign ministry indicated in a classified memo that it was most likely “an arbitrary repressive move in response to the sanctions,” according to  NZZ am Sonntag, a Swiss newspaper. 

Audemars Piguet is yet to make a statement regarding the incident.

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