Russian authorities seized millions of dollars worth of Audemars Piguet watches in Moscow which is being termed as an apparent retaliation attempt against Swiss sanctions banning luxury goods exports.
Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, citing people familiar with a confidential Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs memo, wrote that the pricey watches were seized from the firm's local premises by agents of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).
Earlier this month – Switzerland, which is home to many of the world's top watch brands – abandoned its traditional neutral stance and matched EU sanctions banning the export of luxury goods to Russia in response to the Ukraine invasion.
Family-owned and controlled for nearly 150 years, Audemars Piguet is one of the three biggest independent Swiss watch brands, along with Patek Philippe and Rolex.
Russia was the 17th-biggest export market for Swiss watches in 2021, accounting for 260 million francs ($278 million) of shipments, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.