Stealing Marie Antoinette’s Watch

…from an Israeli museum.

Skinny burglar jacks apart the bars of the iron fence, uses a rope ladder to reach and pry open a window, and then cleans out a museum. Among the items stolen: one of the most complicated and expensive pocket watches ever made.

Abraham-Louis Breguet was given an order for a watch for Marie Antoinette: one with every possible feature, using as much gold as possible, and with no limit on cost or time to manufacture. The watch took 44 years to finish, at which point both the client and the beneficiary had died at the hands of their countrymen.

The theft went unsolved for 24 years, eluding even the efforts of one of Israel’s best PIs. Finally the thief’s widow contacted the museum via a lawyer to return the goods.

The thief in question was a former pilot with an eye for creative heists: to ensure a large supply of oxygen was at hand while oxy-cutting into a bank, he actually laid three hundred feet of pipe to the bank. At one end the guy connected a van-load of oxygen tanks, at the other, he plugged in a portable cutting torch. Nobody ever saw a guy approach the bank facilities with a massive oxygen supply…

Oddly enough, shortly before the watch was returned, the Swatch Group CEO ordered the now-subsidiary watchmaker Breguet (founded in 1775, the Swatch Group’s oldest) to design and manufacture a run of perfect copies. (

Too much to quote.

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