Russia seized luxury watches from Audemars Piguet which is perceived by Swiss authorities as retaliation for economic sanctions.
The magazine NZZ am Sonntag reported that Russia has seized watches from the Swiss manufacturer Audemars Piguet.
According to the publication, agents of the Russian secret service searched the local subsidiary of Audemars Piguet in Russia on March 22 and confiscated watches for a total that would be worth several million dollars.
The watches would only be kept temporarily and not indefinitely seized.
Russia justified it by customs offenses but for the Foreign Department of Switzerland, in a memo sent to several parliament commissions and that NZZ was able to read, it is “most probably an arbitrary repressive measure in response to sanctions” that Switzerland imposed on Russia.
Founded in 1875, Audemars Piguet is one of the largest independent Swiss watchmakers with over 1 billion dollars of turnover a year. Prices for a single watch can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A few days before the confiscation of Audemars Piguet’s watches, Switzerland decided to stop its exports of luxury goods to Russia because of the war in Ukraine.
Switzerland is attached to its neutral stance, which makes it easier for the country to have a strong financial sector and solid economic relations with many countries. But the country recently changed a bit its position aligning it with the European Union’s.
Russia was a market worth 260 million Swiss Francs ($278 million) for the Swiss watch industry in 2021, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. But it is only the 17th biggest export market for Swiss watchmakers.
Audemars Piguet has two retail stores in Russia, both located in Moscow, and both closed because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.