PARIS • A Japanese man who stepped out of his Paris hotel to smoke had his US$840,000 (S$1.2 million) Swiss watch snatched off his wrist by a robber.
Police sources said the 30-year-old victim was approached outside the five-star Hotel Napoleon near the Arc de Triomphe on Monday by a man who asked for a cigarette.
The robber then grabbed the man's arm, snatching the rare Richard Mille timepiece, a Tourbillon Diamond Twister, and fleeing.
Mille timepieces, with their bulky cases that reveal the intricate inner mechanisms, are highly prized by aficionados - and instantly recognisable to thieves targeting wealthy tourists in the French capital.
The Parisien newspaper ran a map on Tuesday pinpointing some two dozen high-value watch thefts this year in the "Golden Triangle" and other glitzy areas near the Champs-Elysees avenue. It noted at least four other Richard Mille watch robberies among the 71 such robberies in Paris and nearby suburbs this year.
But the Japanese victim may be luckier than most - sources say the assailant dropped a cellphone as he fled, which has been handed over to the police for investigation.