Wearers of the fashionable Swiss watches, which can range in price from pounds 1,100 to pounds 10,000, are being targeted by gangs who sell them for a fraction of their value.
Robbers in the US have threatened victims with guns and chainsaws. At least three Rolex wearers in Beverly Hills have been killed.
In Britain, the trend has taken root in affluent parts of north London such as Hampstead and St John's Wood. According to one report, more than 40 attacks, several on women, have been reported in the past four months.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'There have been 10 street robberies since October in the Hampstead division involving the theft of Rolex watches. No one has been seriously hurt but the gangs have used force to remove the watches from their victims.'
He said the thieves operated in groups of two or three, and although incidents appeared to be opportunistic, it is thought they had buyers lined up.
Police are urging Rolex owners to note the serial numbers of their watches.