In a perfect world, it would be great to have all your watches at home, perhaps even on display or in a nice-looking presentation box. But the world isn’t perfect, and there’s always scum that will see you as a target. We can see that in the newspaper, or on Crimewatch UK, America’s Most Wanted, or the equivalent in your country. Especially in recent years, a watch is enough to get you robbed or even killed. And if criminals are prepared to do that, they’re also prepared to pay you a visit at home.

When I started out collecting, safety was not so much of an issue. Firstly, I bought watches that weren’t very expensive. I just kept them in my room when I was a student. Just to be sure, I bought a simple safe to at least have some kind of security in place. Later, the collection grew and I added some expensive watches. That’s when I decided to get a safe deposit box at the local bank.

Keeping your watches safe

Keeping your watches safe is one thing. But I always feel it’s more important to keep your family and yourself safe. Burglary is another thing, and it’s awful for sure. But a full-blown home invasion is an absolute nightmare. When they are standing next to your bed in the middle of the night with a gun pointed at you and your family, you will open that safe anyway (I hope). My word of advice is that you make sure you have a company-monitored alarm system that notifies a call center. The call center will then get in touch with the police if necessary. In the end, it’s not bad to have a safe as well. This ensures it won’t be easy to get the watches out of your house.

I was surprised by the cost of such an alarm system. It’s cheaper than you might think, and in addition to that, it can get you a discount on your home insurance. Alongside motion sensors and sensors on windows and doors, you can also decide to have cameras installed (but often, these don’t really prevent burglary or robbery). Of course, you can get insurance for your watches, which also covers them when they’re worn outside the house. But I think it is better to prevent robbery or theft in the first place. Insurance doesn’t do much for your health or mental state.

A safe deposit box

My advice, though, is to keep as few watches at home as possible, just in case. It might sound like simple and stupid advice, but I also know how easy it becomes to forget about it. Before you know it, you have too many watches at home. Normally, I visit my external safe once every two weeks just to swap a few watches to wear. It also encourages you to take out some of the odd ones occasionally to take them for a spin. Chances are very low that these safe-deposit banks will get robbed. Or at least they’re lower than becoming a victim of burglary or robbery yourself.

The only thing you need to take care of is the insured amount of these safe deposit boxes. Prices on safe deposit boxes vary. I used to have one with my own bank for about €60 a year, but a lot of banks here stopped offering this kind of over-the-counter service. They prefer to only have digital services these days, to both cut down on staff and other operational costs involved. The one I use today costs nearly ten times that but it does offer a higher insured amount and the safe deposit box is much bigger.

They only need five minutes

Now, the annoying part of all of this is the cost and the thought you need to put into it. Alas, that’s the world we live in today, and it has always been this way in certain countries and regions. It’s interesting to know that the average burglary will only take approximately five minutes. They need one minute to break in, three minutes to take valuable items, and another minute to leave the place (based on statistics published by Securitas). It is also helpful to know that most of the burglaries take place during the daytime (more than 50%), around 33% during the evening, and approximately 10% during the night (source: Dutch Police). Given the short time they’re in your house, it might be wise to buy some fake Rolex watches and put them on your nightstand or somewhere visible. When they find these, it might trigger them to stop looking any further and leave.

Image (c) ANP


In the end, the logistics are what bother me most. I don’t mind having an alarm system, cameras, an external safe deposit, and so on, but I really must plan to go to the safe deposit bank. And sometimes I need watches for a specific reason and can’t access them right away. It’s simply annoying. I know, first-world problems, but for me, it is also part of my daytime job. If I need a certain watch for a “spontaneous” photoshoot, I need a few hours to get my watches and return them.

It’s a pity because I do have very nice presentation boxes, watch winders that look amazing, and beautiful watch rolls and pouches. However, I often don’t have any use for them as I want my family and myself to be and feel as safe as possible.

Taking it to private mode

Last but not least — and this has little to do with a safe or safe deposit box — is that you need to be aware of the risks when showing your watches on social media. You wouldn’t be the first to become a victim of theft or robbery because you got thieves’ attention by showing your Rolex collection on Instagram. As of recently, I started to receive DMs from people asking what I am earning or doing for work, based on the watch pictures that are on my private account. I block them immediately and it does make me wonder if I shouldn’t switch to a private account. The “problem” is that Instagram also takes away functionality as soon as you make your account a private one. But perhaps I will, as it doesn’t feel good at all.

Collecting watches is a wonderful hobby, but it is never worth risking the life and health of your loved ones and yourself. Keep that in mind, and if you want to share your experiences in regards to this matter, please leave a comment below.

*Safe deposit box images by De Nederlandse Kluis. Header image just for illustration purposes 🙂