It has been reported that luxury watches worth several million dollars have been seized by members of Russia’s secret service, the FSB, during a raid on a local subsidiary of Audemars Piguet, the renowned Swiss watchmaker.

The move is seen as retaliation by the Kremlin after economic sanctions were imposed by the Swiss government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian officials claimed that the watches were seized because of customs violations but this has been rubbished by the Swiss authorities.

Switzerland ditched its traditional “neutral” status just a few weeks ago and followed the rest of the European Union by introducing a raft of sanctions against Russia. They also banned the export of luxury goods to place economic pressure on the Kremlin amid the escalating war in Ukraine.

According to Bloomberg, at the beginning of March, Audemars Piguet took its own action in response to the war and sought to protect its employees by halting retail operations in Russia.

According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, Russia imported Swiss-made watches, worth around USD280 million, in 2021, making it one of the biggest markets worldwide.

So, is a luxury timepiece the new currency in Russia?

Well, shortly before many well-known brands cut ties with the country, Russia allegedly bought hoards of luxury goods, including top-end watches, as a store of value, to protect against the capitulating ruble, following international sanctions.

It seems you can’t keep luxury watches out of the news!

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