In March 2019, Christopher Jones had a very bad day. The British art dealer was skiing in Aspen, Colorado when he crashed on the mountain. Unfortunately during the tumble, his 1976 Rolex Daytona replica with a tropical dial came off his wrist and was lost in the snow. Given the watch has a value of around $350,000 AUD this was a heartbreaking accident. But things subsequently got a whole lot worse after Jones’ insurer denied him a payout because he’d failed to mention an earlier claim.
Jones is a man who’s generally more likely to provoke envy than sympathy. The 31-year-old is the director of an art gallery in London’s Mayfair and leads a very jet-set lifestyle indeed. His girlfriend is the Victoria’s Secret model, Lorena Rae, whose former beaus reportedly include a certain Leonardo Di Caprio. Jones himself meanwhile has been photographed gallivanting around town with the likes of David Beckham.
And yet what has befallen Jones is a tale that can only make any watch lover wince with horror. After losing the steel bracelet copy Rolex Daytona, he naturally contacted his insurers to try and organise a payout for his loss. But The Daily Mail reports that the insurer Zurich voided his £4250 policy after discovering a £15,000 claim that Jones had made three years earlier for a diamond that went missing from an ex-girlfriend’s vintage ring. Zurich insisted it would never have agreed to cover Jones’ watch collection if they’d been aware of the missing diamond.
Jones subsequently took Zurich to court, but the case has now been dismissed by a judge after a three-day High Court hearing.
The art dealer had blamed “human error” for misleading the insurer when he neglected to mention the former claim for the diamond. The court heard that the policy had been arranged by Jones’ uncle and executive assistant, Thomas Trautmann.
When negotiating the insurance policy, Zurich had asked if any claims had been made in the previous five years. But the £15,000 payout for the missing diamond in 2016 was never revealed. Zurich’s senior underwriter told the court he had been reluctant to cover the jewellery in the first place and had hiked the cost of the policy by 25 per cent as a result.
Jones originally told the court his uncle was unaware of the lost diamond when taking out the insurance. But he was later forced to admit that his uncle had actually helped put in the claim for it.
Judge Pelling, in his ruling, highlighted a series of inaccuracies in Jones’ evidence that showed “at the very least a fairly fundamental lack of recall of critical events”.
Admittedly, misleading an insurer whether deliberately or not is never a good idea. And some would say that wearing such a valuable watch for skiing isn’t wise either. But my sympathies ultimately lie with Jones here. Rather than let his vintage sports clone Rolex watch languish in a safe, he was actively putting it to use in the sort of rugged circumstances that it was born for. The Daytona, after all, is a chronograph built for speed and adrenaline-soaked pursuits.
Should Jones’ top quality fake Rolex ever be found on the mountain-side by some lucky hiker, one only hopes it continues to enjoy its life of jet-set adventure.