Another person I know just told me the story of how he lost his prized Rolex because of a break and entry to his home. FFS! If you’re reading this you probably love watches and whether you have one or many, you probably keep some, or all your watches at home.
You probably can’t help but worry about the possible risk of theft and wonder if there is more you could be doing to help keep your watches safe at home for extra peace of mind. There’s plenty to think about when it comes to storing your watches at home.
I’ve got a few tips and ideas I'd like to share…
The good thing about watches is that even though they can be high value items, they are small and quite easy to store. When compared to a vintage car, a work of art or a building anyway! However we all need to concern ourselves with things like security & safety, longevity and keeping the watches from premature wear or aging. Properly storing your watches will not only keep your watches from things like rust, moisture exposure and premature wear to the movements, which will lead to a greater service bill further down the road, but will also make your watches less accessible to sticky fingered thieves who would very much like to get their little thieving hands on your treasured watch.
Many stolen watches that I hear about are opportunists, just hoping to get lucky. But don’t rule out calculated, targeted and planned theft. As we have seen on Paul Thorpe’s videos, when a thief wants to get their hands on something, they will pretty much go to any extreme to get it. There isn’t, in many cases, much you can do about it. What you can do is not pass things over on a silver platter for them and ideally make sure they leave empty handed. Thieves tend to go down the path of least resistance and if you live in a house that has weak doors and windows, no alarm, and you have a high value watch collection left out on display, this is an intruder’s dream.
We need to make life difficult for them. We need to plan ahead and not make ourselves easy targets and present them low hanging fruit. We want to put the odds in our favour that they will leave empty handed.
Here’s what we can do…
Beef up your home security.
Ideally, we want to stop an intruder getting into your house in the first place or at least make it a struggle for them. The reality is, if they want to get in, they’re probably getting in – through brute force – but remember to always lock and double lock all your doors and windows when going out. Obvious I know – but the first line of defence is to check the robustness of your windows and doors. Are they secure? Are they modern? Are they solid? If not, then the first line of defence is a bit of a weak one. And you will need to reply on the next lines of defence as break in and entry is quite possible.
Do online research yourself but here in the UK – the neighbourhood watch suggest the best and way to protect your home from burglary is to follow the WIDE security combination.
Window Locks Installed
Interior Lights on Timer
Door Double Locks or Dead Locks
Exterior Lights on Sensor
There is no shortage of online information on how to keep your home secure online. So fill your boots and go to town here…
Get a safe
It may make sense to invest in a home safe for your watches. Having a safe is the second line of defence between someone that has entered your house – and your watches.
Position your home safe in a discreet location, and if your collection is large, consider having more than one safe so you can spread your watches out. You need a decent safe to store your watches. It should be rated “Torch and Tool-Resistant for at least 30 minutes.”
It should also have a fire rating for suitable protection in the event of a fire.
When having a home safe professionally installed, make sure it is bolted to the structure or foundation, or find one that is too heavy for someone to move by themselves, usually a few hundred kilograms. Restrict who has knowledge of and access to the safe and potentially speak with your home insurance company about what criteria they put on their “approved” safes to help bring down your insurance premiums.
Get insurance cover for your watches, or at least “self insure”.
It is a good idea to take out home contents insurance to cover your possessions against fire, theft and other risks, such as accidental damage. If something happens to destroy or damage your possessions, it can cost a lot of money to replace the items.
Home contents insurance covers personal and home possessions and can also cover you if you take items out of the home, on holiday, for example. The insurance covers your own possessions and those of close family members living with you.
Get an alarm. A good one. Ideally with monitoring.
There’s no question that home alarm systems deter thieves and can increase the odds of catching a burglar if your home does get broken into. 60% of convicted burglars say they will target another home if they discover a security system in the one they are trying to rob – so Home Security systems and monitoring discourage break-ins. A good home security system is an investment. While it can be simple to tally the up-front and monthly costs associated with a security system and alarm monitoring, attaching a price tag to peace of mind is a difficult thing to do, especially if you have children or teens in the house – and of course – valuables too.
Security systems can do more than deter burglars. The right system can keep you linked to your home no matter where you are. It will also let you know when doors are opened and closed.
Nowadays, home security systems are very smart and can be relatively low cost and quite easy to install. Simplisafe and Verisure are worth checking out here in the UK – and there are many others. With home monitoring you can also have excellent features like zero-visibility dense fog release – designed to deploy a zero-visibility in a situation. Burglars have the ability to pick locks, inhibit signals, and cut power lines, among many other techniques in order to take what isn’t theirs. But burglars can’t function without their vision. Impairing the intruder’s vision before they have a chance to identify what they plan to steal is another obstacle for them to overcome. If They Can’t See, They Can’t Steal.
There is plenty online about home intruder alarms with monitoring. Do your homework and find a decent solution that suits your budget and lifestyle.
Spread your watches around (but remember where they are!)
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You don’t want to give intruders all your watches, huddled together on a golden platter. Spreading them out mitigates against them all being taken on one fell swoop.
Consider secret hiding places for your watches.
Watches are small so it isn’t hard to hide them (just remember where they are). There may be inconspicuous – and good little hiding places around your house that you know of.
Make sure you store your watches safely though. I know this sounds like something out of a Bond movie, but other examples.
- Fake book storage (little hide aways that look like books)
- Tinned food storage (little hide aways that look like a can of beans or drinks bottle)
- Secret plug storage (that you put into your wall and looks like a plug socket)
- Deodorant cans
- Shelf clocks
You can get a lot of these things on Amazon and they are just ideas for you.
One thing, please be careful to avoid strong magnetic fields. With most watches, their movements don’t really like don’t like strong magnets. Do not stash in home audio speakers.
If you are a bit forgetful, keep a digital record of where you keep them.
Recording where you keep your watches will serve as a good memory jogger and aide memoir,
Have a google doc, excel spread sheet or list saved as a contact in your phone’s contacts.
Or an excel sheet in Dropbox. Or a note on Evernote. Whatever is best for you, just have a quick reference to save a panic down the line where you can’t remember where you’ve placed something. Make sure your other half doesn’t throw the can of beans out thinking they are old and they have thrown out your 1950s James Bond Submariner Big Crown.
There needs to be a bit of house-keeping around this.
Make sure the watches are well protected in their secret stash.
Another thing to consider is how you store the actual watches. Depending on where you store your watches, this may already be answered.
If you plan to store the watches in a safe, a safety deposit box, or somewhere else in your home, store them in either a watch box or a pouch or some kind of protective case – like a Rolex coffin case. Some people buy watch boxes where they store their watches, keeping them protected. Others use soft travel pouches and store them individually. The benefit of a watch box is that you keep them easily accessible and stored together in one place.
The Rolex factory hard plastic transportation boxes, also known as ”coffins” are great because the coffins do not take up a lot of space and are designed in a way to make it possible to stack them. They keep the watches extremely well-protected with styrofoam which prevents scratches. You can buy these online or get in touch and I’ll arrange for you.
Try and make sure they are relatively easily accessible.
Whilst you want your watches to be safe and secure and well protected, you want them to be relatively accessible to you. For example, if you like to rotate your watches or like to look at them often, or wind them every few days, it can be a bit of a ball ache to have to get out ladders, or empty a cupboard to get access to the secret spot, or travel here or journey there.
Whilst they need to be secure, easy (ish) access will help keep your watch hobby efficient and not make it feel like hard work.
For extra security, consider not even telling your other half where they are.
This is because, for security reasons, the less people who know, the better.
You have a document online that your other half can refer to if something terrible happens to you. Some intruders will do rather unthinkable things to get what they want and that may involve other people that may be in the house. Enough said on that one. I’m sure you get my drift.
Consider getting decoys for your home.
If intruders break and enter and there’s an alarm going off, they won’t have time to deeply inspect if watches are real as the pressure is on and the clock is ticking for them.
I personally like to have decoys at home so there was a break in, I would rather they took a bunch of decoys and went on their way. In the heat of the moment, they may be happy with what they think is real and scram. These decoys you can leave out or if you go away – on your bedside table or your sock draw.
Don’t leave your watches out when you leave the house – EVER.
Always put them away in their safe place, even if you’re only going out for a few hours.
Consider getting a bank safety deposit box.
If you like to rotate your watches daily or weekly, having your watches at home may be a necessity so you can get the most out of your hobby and enjoy looking at and wearing them on a regular basis. However, if you have more of an investment collection that are safe queens, it may be worth keeping those watches in the super secure location of a Bank safety deposit box. Granted, this can be a little inconvenient if you don’t live or work very close to one, but the peace of mind with this is very worth it. Visit it every few weeks to wind the watch, but you will enjoy the lower insurance premiums and the peace of mind.
Tell everyone you keep your watches in a bank safety deposit box. Whether you do or don’t.
I suggest this verbal decoy as a bit of a strategy. Bob and Pete down the pub really don’t need to know where you keep your watches. There are listening ears everywhere.
If you are known as a bit of a watch guy and if anyone ever asks “where do you keep your watches”, just reply, ‘in a bank safety deposit box’. No matter who it is – that’s your answer.
They don’t need to know what safety grade your home safe is or that you hide your watches around the house. Or that your home monitoring has a fantastic 127 second response time to get to your house. The answer is always… “In the bank. In a safety deposit box”.
When storing – be mindful moisture and temperature.
We’ve heard this a lot, it’s best to store your watches in a cool dry place. Not damp, hot or too cold. If you wouldn’t store your mobile phone there, don’t store your watch there.
Moisture and high or low temperatures are not your watch’s friends. Moisture, in particular long-term moisture, is never a good thing as it can cause rust and oxidation, and in the worst case, the moisture may find its way into the movement.
Furthermore, moisture and cold will cause premature wear and ageing of the oils, which will damage the movement. A way to tackle moisture – if there is really no other option for your long term secret storage spot is to use a silica gel bag that absorbs moisture.
Keep in mind that these bags need to be replaced occasionally as they absorb moisture.
A quick note on leather…
If you have watches on leather straps, the silica bags will cause the straps to dry faster.
It is wise to either remove the leather straps or skip the silica gel altogether.
At the same time, an issue that some people have is that mould starts to grow on the leather straps, and mould grows partly as a result of moisture. Whilst the silica gel will prevent mould, it may cause the leather to dry out. You will have to make the call of what is most appropriate to do for your situation. The ideal way to store your watch is in an environment with minimal moisture and at room temperature. You don’t want it to be too cold nor too hot – like it can get in a loft, attic or cellar. Both your home and a bank’s safety deposit box should do the job here.
It’s wise to separate the watch from the box and the papers.
Best not to store them together as this would be a thief’s dream… imagine that – a watch with its box and papers. With the box and papers, the same rules of moisture and temperature apply.
Protect them well and store them away from the watch.