Rolex Officially Enters The Secondary Market With Its Own Certified Pre-Owned Program
You can now get a certificate of authenticity, a two-year warranty and a wax seal tag for your pre-owned Rolex.
Rolex is finally getting into the secondary market.
The world’s most famous Swiss watchmaker has announced the start of its own certified pre-owned watch program, under which it will sell authenticated watches, first through the luxury retailer Bucherer, before expanding to other authorized dealers.
Only Rolex watches purchased from ADs and more than three years old will be eligible for the pre-owned program, in an effort to curtail newer models being flipped in the grey market. And here’s where the Crown is really levelling up from your typical secondary market experience. When you purchase a Rolex certified pre-owned watch, you’ll receive a certificate of authenticity and a new, two-year warranty card. You’ll even get a coveted Rolex “wax seal” tag.
Rolex certified pre-owned watches will initially be available at Bucherer boutiques in six select markets including Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Denmark and the UK beginning this month. In 2023, the Crown will expand the program to other Rolex authorised retailers, hopefully including some outposts in the States.
In the past two decades, there’s been a notable surge in the pre-owned watch market (one that’s expected to continue thanks to millennials and Gen Z shoppers), and Rolex isn’t the first major player to claim its own slice of the pie. One of the biggest moves came in 2018 when Richemont entered the second-hand space by acquiring Watchfinder. In 2020, Watches of Switzerland purchased Analog/Shift. Then, just last year, Hodinkee got into the pre-owned watch game by purchasing Crown & Caliber. (Some other brands, including Moser, Vacheron Constantin, Cartier, Audemars Piguet and MB&F, also operate their own CPO programs.)
Pre-owned watches and retailers have often carried a certain stigma. There’s arguably a greater risk involved when buying a luxury watch outside the sphere of an authorised dealer or directly from the brand. While many brands have historically wanted to distance themselves from the second-hand market, others have recognised the value in being a part of it, whether to bolster security and trust or to control the segment. Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is an approach that has long been used in other luxury sectors, like cars. Companies like Porsche and Ferrari have been putting their stamps of approval on pre-owned vehicles for years.
At first glance, Rolex’s move into the pre-owned market may come as a bit of a surprise, but it’s actually a logical next step for the brand. In the past few years, Rolex boutiques around the globe have run dry with display cases marked by dreaded “For Exhibition Only” signs and employees breaking the news that a particular watch might not be available for months or even years. The Crown recently gave collectors hope that the tides might be shifting with the announcement of plans to build a new $1 billion factory in Switzerland. But until it’s up and running, certified pre-owned Rolex watches may help fill the gap in the supply.
Many questions remain, however: How will Rolex handle its own pre-owned pricing? How will it control the supply of its own secondary market? What will the company do to motivate sellers to not resell with outside dealers, and how will that affect pricing? Stay tuned…
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