Paris thief swipes $1.2m watch from Japanese man's wrist

The 30-year-old victim was approached outside the five-star Hotel Napoleon near the Arc de Triomphe by a man who asked for a cigarette.
The 30-year-old victim was approached outside the five-star Hotel Napoleon near the Arc de Triomphe by a man who asked for a cigarette.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - A Japanese man who stepped out of his Paris hotel for a cigarette was robbed of his US$840,000 (S$1.2 million) Swiss watch by a thief who snatched it off his wrist, police sources said on Tuesday (Oct 8).

The 30-year-old victim was approached outside the five-star Hotel Napoleon near the Arc de Triomphe late on Monday by a man who asked for a cigarette.

The thief then grabbed the man's arm and fled with the rare Richard Mille timepiece, a Tourbillon Diamond Twister estimated to cost some €770,000 (S$1.2 million).

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 published a map on Tuesday pinpointing some two dozen high-value watch nabbings in the "Golden Triangle" and other glitzy areas near the Champs-Elysees avenue so far this year.

It noted at least four other Richard Mille watch robberies, all valued from at least €100,000, among the 71 such robberies in Paris and nearby suburbs between January and September.

But the Japanese victim may be luckier than most - police sources say the assailant dropped a mobile phone as he fled, which has been handed over to the police division which investigates serious robberies and organised crime.