PhD Candidate Risk and vulnerability in the assetization of expensive pre-owned watches

PhD Candidate Risk and vulnerability in the assetization of expensive pre-owned watches

Published Deadline Location
6 Jul 14 Aug Maastricht

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Maastricht University is seeking a PhD Candidate to join the NWO-funded public/private research consortium PRICELESS (Priceless Assets of Subversion: Financial Crime and the Valuation of Unique Goods).

Note, this is one of two PhD positions within the PRICELESS project that are currently being advertised.

Job description

As PhD researcher with PRICELESS, you will be investigating the value appraisal and pricing of expensive (pre-owned) watches, focusing on online marketplaces and assetization platforms and their relationships with traditional jewellers and smaller (pre-owned) watch retail businesses in the Netherlands.

Whether new or pre-owned, large volumes of expensive watches sell and resell for prices barely scraping the applicable reporting thresholds for (cash) payments. However, there are also many instances of watches that are much more expensive than the reporting thresholds, and—similar to art collections (the focus of another PRICELESS PhD position) entire watch collections as well as highly valued individual timepieces can now be assetized financially, which poses risk factors for subversive crime.

A specific focus of this PhD project is on the advertisement and increasing use of digital value appraisal technologies online (e.g. through photographs), as well as on the development and use of new online escrow payment services, consumer credit and lending services (including in foreign and crypto currencies), and financial products based on fractional ownership. This will include 1) mapping the (networks of) actors and the factors of valuation and revaluation processes and practices and 2) understanding the authoritative norms and forms of (technological) appraisal expertise. Two primary concepts within this PhD project will be the concepts of risk and the concepts of vulnerability, which will inform the theoretical framings of this work package.

In this four-year academic position, you will conduct research leading to a final dissertation. You will work with the supervisors and greater PRICELESS consortium to achieve project goals and produce project outputs. You will also participate in PRICLESS consortium events, outreach activities, and research meetings. The PRICELESS consortium consists of a large group of both public and private partners, allowing for a mutually beneficial networking and research experience. A percentage of your time may be dedicated to gaining teaching experience.

This PhD project will take a criminological, sociological, and economic perspective on this issue, and will be supervised by Donna Yates (Faculty of Law, Department of Criminology and Criminal Law) and Rachel Pownell (School of Business and Economics, Department of Finance).


Maastricht University (UM)


The ideal candidate for this position:

  • Has earned a master's degree in criminology, sociology, economics, anthropology, or a closely related discipline.
  • Has experience conducting research and analyzing data related to financial crime, organizational crime and/or markets for elite or high value goods.
  • Have experience in quantitative and/or qualitative surveying and qualitative interviewing.
  • Have a high proficiency in spoken and written English (some spoken Dutch or a willingness to learn would be a plus).

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 + 3 years.

As a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of LAW, you will be employed by the most international university of the Netherlands, located in the beautiful city of Maastricht. In addition, we offer you:

  • Good employment conditions. The position is in grated in scale P according to the UFO profile PhD Candidate, with corresponding salary ranging from € 2.541 to € 3.247 gross per month (based on a full-time employment of 38 hours per week). In addition to the monthly salary, an 8.0% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus are applicable.
  • An employment contract for a period of 12 months with a scope of 1.0 FTE. Upon a positive evaluation, an extension of 3 years will follow.
  • As a holder of the 'Family-friendly University' quality mark, we offer flexible working hours and the possibility to work partly from home if the nature of your position allows it. You will receive a monthly commuting and internet allowance for this. If you work full-time, you will be entitled to 29 vacation days and 4 additional public holidays per year, namely carnival Monday, carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, and Liberation Day. If you choose to accumulate compensation hours, an additional 12 days will be added. Furthermore, you can personalize your employment conditions through a collective labor agreement (CAO) choice model.
  • As Maastricht University, we offer various other excellent secondary employment conditions. These include a good pension scheme with the ABP and the opportunity for UM employees to participate in company fitness and make use of the extensive sports facilities that we also offer to our students.
  • Last but certainly not least, we provide the space and facilities for your personal and professional development. We facilitate this by offering a wide range of training programs and supporting various well-established initiatives such as 'acknowledge and appreciate'.

The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply. For more information, Click here


Maastricht University

Why work at Maastricht University?

At Maastricht University (UM), everything revolves around the future. The future of our students, as we work to equip them with a solid, broad-based foundation for the rest of their lives. And the future of society, as we seek solutions through our research to issues from all around the world. Our six faculties combined provide a comprehensive package of study programmes and research.  

In our teaching, we use the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method. Students work in small groups, looking for solutions to problems themselves. By discussing issues and working together to draw conclusions, formulate answers and present them to their peers, students develop essential skills for their future careers.

With over 22,300 students and more than 5,000 employees from all over the world, UM is home to a vibrant and inspiring international community.

Are you drawn to an international setting focused on education, science and scholarship? Are you keen to contribute however your skills and qualities allow? Our door is open to you! As a young European university, we value your talent and look forward to creating the future together.  

Click here for more information about UM.


Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law at Maastricht University is a top-quality provider of challenging and rewarding Dutch and European legal education at bachelor’s, master’s and PhD-level. A true pioneer in small-scale teaching and teaching of skills aimed at a broad range of future legal professionals.

The clear focus in research on European and international aspects of the law, Law and tech, and the empirical setting in which the law operates, provides an exceptionally stimulating environment for both students and staff. The Faculty greatly values its open, diverse and inclusive community that makes it a pleasant and rewarding place to work and study. 

The UM Faculty of Law offers a wide range of bachelor's and master's programmes. Would you like to know more about our programmes? Visit our website for more information on the courses, career perspectives and admission requirements of our programmes.


Crimes involving high-value unique goods (HVUG), such as luxury items and works of art, have evolved in one surprising way: where the lure for criminals once lay in stealing or forging such objects, it now lies in transforming them into financialized assets, for instance to obscure transactions, to launder money, or to hide wealth and evade sanctions. Key to the assetization of unique goods is their valuation, upon which subsequent collateralization, securitization, and derivation depends. To better understand and tackle proven vulnerabilities to subversive (financial) crime, this innovative project analyses contested practices of value appraisal, insurance, and accounting, and examines how they can become corrupted. While many different parties are involved in the valuation of unique goods, they each use different methods and rarely exchange relevant data, often due to privacy constraints. However, sharing information is crucial to understanding how the valuation of assetized unique goods is malleable and subject to manipulation. PRICELESS builds on a successful, established collaborative network between public and private partners in the Netherlands to map and mitigate associated risks of criminal subversion. The project combines qualitative and quantitative research into the assetization of high-value artworks (including crypto art and NFTs) and expensive (pre- owned) watches with the promising method of financial crime scripting to reveal how (non-banking) financial services and legal arbitrage practices facilitate dangerous schemes of subversive crime. Adapting innovative privacy-preserving technologies to allow for data, information and intelligence sharing between private and public organizations, PRICELESS improves resilience through better standards, controls, regulation, and policing.


  • PhD
  • Economics; Language and culture; Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3245 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2023.324


Maastricht University (UM)

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