LONDON – Compagnie Financière Richemont wants to stamp out watch and jewelry theft with the launch of a new digital platform that aims to help consumers and law enforcement officials track stolen goods.
On Thursday during Watches and Wonders in Geneva, Richemont unveiled Enquirus, which it describes as a “neutral, global digital platform designed to help reduce watch and jewelry-related crime.”
The platform is open to all luxury brands and was designed in close collaboration with a wide range of partners, including watch and jewelry manufacturers, law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, the pre-owned market and clients, according to Richemont.
Enquirus allows for watch and jewelry information to be securely uploaded, searched and shared by multiple parties. The data is used to help identify lost and stolen items and to make the purchase and resale of those pieces more difficult.
Criminal gangs in big cities have become increasingly aggressive. In the U.K. there are media reports nearly every day of watch thefts, and violent crimes, on busy streets and outside high-priced restaurants, luxury apartments and hotels.
Stolen watches are particularly easy to shift, with some dealers, stores and sites requiring only basic identification from sellers and paying them immediately via bank deposit.
Until now it has been difficult for potential customers to check whether pre-owned merchandise is legitimate and often they have to rely on the reseller’s word.
Using the Enquirus “intelligent ecosystem,” watch owners and industry partners can register, declare and search for lost and stolen watches and jewelry through individual, or business accounts.
Users create an account, register their collection using the brand and serial numbers of items, upload the documentation in a secure digital vault and then report lost or stolen pieces.
Richemont believes that with one central point of reference, all stakeholders “can easily collaborate to increase the chances of recovery,” while customers for pre-owned watches can check the database to ensure that what they plan to buy is not a stolen item.
“This reliable solution brings together multiple stakeholders to serve customers and the entire industry by facilitating borderless cooperation between police forces and insurance partners,” said Jérôme Lambert, chief executive officer of Richemont.
“By providing free access for customers and industry partners, the opportunity to sell stolen watches becomes more prohibitive, with the ultimate objective of reducing the incentive to steal watches in the first place,” he added.
Frank Vivier, chief transformation officer at Richemont, said the group listened to its customers and developed Enquirus as part of a suite of customer services.
“Our goal is to bring onboard as many industry players as possible, as well as the police departments of all the major cities in the world, to make Enquirus the largest international database of lost and stolen watches and jewelry,” he said.
Data from more than 175 luxury watch brands and several top jewelry brands has already been pre-loaded, to make registration easier for clients.
The data is from all the Richemont maisons and other major players in the watch industry. Richemont said thousands of customers have already uploaded their collections to date. More than 28,000 watches and jewels have been registered as lost or stolen.
The Département de Sûreté Territoriale in Paris, as well as the Geneva Police Service des Bijoux and other European police forces are registered with Enquirus and using the platform.
In the U.K., Enquirus has been awarded Secured by Design accreditation. Secured by Design is an official police initiative that works to improve the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings to provide safe places to live, work, shop and visit.
Additional police departments around the world will be onboarded in the coming months, according to Richemont.
Enquirus’ insurance partners include LMG Jewellery, the U.K.’s largest organization specializing in the professional management of insurance claims for jewelry, watches and other valuable items, and Zurich Insurance Group, the largest insurance company in Switzerland.
Bonhams, the international luxury auctioneer, is also a partner.
The launch of Enquirus is the latest move by Richemont to promote transparency in the luxury industry.
As reported, the company is also a key stakeholder in the Aura Blockchain Consortium alongside LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and Prada Group. The consortium promotes the use of a single blockchain solution and is open to all luxury brands worldwide. It gives consumers direct access to a product’s history, proof of ownership, warranty and maintenance record.