It happened this morning at 11.09am at Browns Jewellers, in Crossgates Shopping Centre, in Austhorpe Road.
West Yorkshire Police say two men, one armed with a hammer and the other with an axe, entered the shopping centre and smashed a window at the shop before stealing a number of expensive watches, while staff retreated to a backroom for safety.
The men left the scene in a black Ford Fiesta, which was found abandoned a short time later at the rear of the Britannia Hotel, in Mill Green View.
Det Insp Richard Holmes, of Leeds District CID, said: "While no-one was injured, the staff involved have been left understandably shaken by this incident, which was also witnessed by a number of members of the public who were warned by the men to stay away.
"We are carrying out extensive enquiries to identify the men involved and would like to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident.
"The black Ford Fiesta they used had been waiting outside the Day-And-Night Pharmacy across the road and we want to speak to anyone who saw the men and the vehicle in the time leading up to the incident. We would also like to hear from anyone who saw the men abandoning the car behind the Britannia Hotel In Mill Green View."
Anyone with information is asked to contact Leeds District CID via 101 quoting log number 588 of May 15 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.