- Russia seized millions of dollars worth of Audemars Piguet watches in Moscow last week, according to NZZ am Sonntag.
- The move appeared to be a retaliatory measure against Swiss sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Switzerland has come out of its historically neutral status to sanction Russia over the war in Ukraine.
Russian secret service agents confiscated millions of dollars worth of luxury watches from a Swiss watchmaker in apparent retaliation for Swiss sanctions imposed during the war in Ukraine, Switzerland NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday.
The watches were confiscated from a local subsidiary of Audemars Piguet in Moscow earlier this month, according to the newspaper. Audemars Piguet is a family watchmaker for almost 150 years. The brand’s luxury watches usually have an entry cost of tens of thousands of dollars.
Russian authorities cited customs violations for the seizure of the watches, but the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a confidential note that it was most likely “an arbitrary repressive measure in reaction to the sanctions”, according to NZZ am Sonntag.
Russia was the 17th largest market for Swiss watch exports in 2021, accounting for 260.1 million francs ($278.6 million) in shipments, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
Audemars Piguet and the Swiss Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment sent outside normal business hours. A spokesperson for the Swiss Foreign Ministry said Bloomberg the country’s embassy in Moscow “is currently maintaining a very intensive exchange” with Swiss companies in Russia.