Luxury Watches Worth $13 Million Missing in Japan, Owner Flees

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In a startling turn of events, approximately 900 luxury watches valued at nearly $13 million have gone missing in Japan after a rental service abruptly shut down, leaving its owner fleeing to Dubai. The watches, including prestigious brands like Rolex, were part of a rental scheme operated by Osaka-based Toke Match, where owners would earn monthly deposit fees by lending their timepieces to the service.

The crisis unfolded when Neo Reverse, the company behind Toke Match, suddenly announced the termination of its operations on January 31, pledging to return all watches to their respective owners. However, despite these assurances, numerous owners, totaling around 190 individuals, have reported that their watches, collectively valued at 1.9 billion yen ($12.6 million), have not been returned as promised.

Disturbingly, some of the missing watches have surfaced on online auction platforms, prompting a flurry of complaints to law enforcement agencies across Japan. Valuence Japan, the operator of one such auction site, disclosed that it had identified at least 20 watches with serial numbers matching those loaned to Toke Match. Immediate measures were taken to halt the circulation of these timepieces to prevent further losses.

The situation has escalated further with reports indicating that some of the watches may have been circulated in second-hand stores. The Sharing Economy Association, Japan, expressed concern over the incident, highlighting the rapid growth of Japan’s sharing economy market, which reached 2.6 trillion yen ($17 billion) in the previous fiscal year.

Amidst mounting pressure, Tokyo police have taken decisive action, obtaining an arrest warrant for Takazumi Kominato, the owner of Toke Match, on suspicion of embezzlement. Kominato is accused of selling a Rolex watch, borrowed from an owner to a second-hand dealer for 650,000 yen in January. However, he managed to evade authorities by fleeing to Dubai in late February, prompting plans to issue an international wanted notice.