Whether you have bought someone the watch or their dreams for a special birthday or you have been saving up for months, the time-telling device can become a person’s most prized possession.

But now Brits are being urged to keep their personal items safe as more than £1 billion worth of luxury watches are registered as stolen or missing after a “sharp increase” in thefts.

It comes as almost 80,000 watches have been reported as stolen or missing, according to figures by global crime prevention database The Watch Register.

The company said a total of 6,815 were recorded as being missing or stolen last year, representing a 60% increase in the number of new watches on the global database.

This included a 33% rise for the year in the UK as there is a “concerning surge” in potential thefts in recent years.

What is the most common stolen luxury watch in the UK?

Rolex watches are the most common recorded on the system, accounting for 44% of the total.

The total value of all watches recorded as stolen or lost amounts to over £1 billion and includes a number of high-value luxury watches that individually retail between £50,000 to £100,000 or more, The Watch Register said.

How to register your stolen luxury watch in the hopes of finding it again

There have been a recent number of high-profile jewellery thefts affecting celebrities including former boxer Amir Khan, cyclist Mark Cavendish and racing driver Lando Norris.

Victims can register stolen products with The Watch Register, and the platform is then used by dealers, jewellers, pawnbrokers and auction houses to identify stolen watches.

Katya Hills, managing director at The Watch Register said: “Recent records show a concerning surge in the registration of luxury watches that have been stolen or lost.

“The considerable value and prestige of these high-end timepieces continues to attract the attention of sophisticated and international criminal networks, making them a prime target for theft.

“The increasing number of stolen luxury watches also serves as a stark reminder of the risks faced in safeguarding such high-value possessions and we advise owners to make sure that they have adequate insurance for their watch, to keep photographs of their watch and to make a note of their watch’s unique serial number, which will aid its recovery in the event of it being lost or stolen.”