An important news for the world of luxury watches comes from Rolex. They have announced an official Certified Pre-Owned program that will be supported by the brand’s worldwide network of retailers, granting the Swiss company more control over its timepieces in the $20 billion USD market for secondhand and luxury watches. The program – which offers both certification, a guarantee of authenticity, and a two-year warranty – kicks off this month at select Bucherer boutiques across Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Denmark, and the UK. More retailers who will choose to be part of the program will be able to join in the spring of next year.
How is this concept put into practice? Rolex now offers customers the opportunity to buy second-hand watches that the brand itself has certified as genuine. With the intention of preserving and maintaining its existing products, the brand will guarantee that the watches are at least three years old and meet the demanding quality criteria that all Rolex watches must meet. Second-hand pieces will then benefit from a two-year international guarantee, which will remain valid from the date of their resale within the Rolex network.
With such massive news, especially for a brand that has neglected the popularity of its watches in secondary markets, only time will tell how well the program is received by retailers and, in turn, how well Rolex’s approved offer will keep up with demand.
Fundamentally it makes a lot of sense, and Rolex is certainly not the first brand to directly address second-hand sales. Product authenticity and performance can often be a weak points for buyers considering pre-owned watches, and with the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned program, the brand is trying to eliminate both of these weaknesses by speaking directly to the confidence they have in their own product.
The big question we all have is what effect this will have on prices. And the question extends beyond the borders of the eventual certified pre-owned case from your Rolex retailer and into the wider world of pre-owned Rolex watches in general. The market, which had weaker moments than the previous year, is still very strong – and it will be interesting to see how Rolex and its retailers internalize current pricing realities, consider the costs and benefits of the program, and then arrive at a final price for a given reference.
On many levels, Rolex leads the watch market. And while it’s not the first time you can purchase a used Rolex from a particular dealer, it is the first time the sale will be certified by Rolex and include a warranty. For a product as durable and long-lasting as a Rolex, it makes sense for the brand to play an active role in the secondary market. That said, collectors around the world are excited and interested to see the implementation of the program. And who knows if it will be a success, we could expect other big brands like Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet to offer the same service.