Russian secret-service agents confiscated millions of dollars’ worth of luxury watches from a Swiss watchmaker in apparent retaliation against Switzerland’s sanctions over the Ukraine war, Switzerland’s NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported over the weekend.
The watches were confiscated from a local subsidiary of Audemars Piguet in Moscow earlier this month, the report said. Audemars Piguet, a nearly 150-year-old family-owned business, makes luxury watches that typically cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Russian authorities cited customs offenses for the seizure of the watches, but Switzerland’s foreign ministry said in a confidential memo that it was most likely “an arbitrary repressive measure in reaction to the sanctions,” NZZ am Sonntag reported.
Russia was the 17th-largest market for Swiss watch exports in 2021, accounting for 260.1 million Swiss francs’ worth of shipments, or about $280 million, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
Audemars Piguet did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment sent outside regular business hours. A spokesperson for Switzerland’s foreign affairs department told Insider the country’s embassy in Moscow “is currently maintaining a very intensive exchange” with Swiss companies in Russia.
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