What Does Rolex’s New Certified Pre-Owned Program Mean For The Grey Market?
— Updated on 30 January 2023

What Does Rolex’s New Certified Pre-Owned Program Mean For The Grey Market?

— Updated on 30 January 2023
Nick Kenyon
Nick Kenyon

It’s been a very big couple of weeks at Rolex, following the bombshell report the Swiss watchmaker is planning to build a $1.5 billion new factory and today with some even more exciting news for fans of the brand. In a seismic announcement to the market, Rolex is launching its own Certified Pre-Owned program with a select number of Authorised Dealers this month, with more to be included in 2023.

In a statement, Rolex explains: “Because they are built to last, Rolex watches often live several lives. And because they may be worn on new wrists, the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned programme now enables retailers in the brand’s official distribution network to sell second-hand models that are certified as authentic and which come with a new two-year international guarantee.”

“Rolex Certified Pre-Owned watches will initially be available at Bucherer boutiques in six countries (Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Denmark and the UK) from the start of December 2022. Other Official Rolex Retailers who choose to be part of this programme will be able to do so from spring 2023.”

RELATED: Rolex Reportedly Building A New $1.5 Billion Factory So You Can Get Off The Wait List

This Certified Pre-Owned program won’t be available to all Rolex watches, only those that are at least three years old since they were first sold by a retailer, which is surely designed to discourage the “flippers” looking to resell their new Rolex immediately at a market price above RRP. The program will also guarantee the authenticity of the watches sold through it, as well as offer a new two-year Rolex-backed warranty on the pre-owned timepiece sold.

While the authenticity guarantee, additional warranty and three-year buffer period are all positive steps in the right direction for the average punter looking to buy their first Rolex, there is a question about market pricing that will still need to play out. Enthusiasts are already voicing their concerns about the prospect of Authorised Dealers with no available new stock pushing clients toward a display case of pre-owned models, which if sold at current market prices could cost twice the price of a new model (which has a five-year warrant), but without the waiting list.

A solution for this could be for Rolex to introduce respective price caps on watches within the certified pre-owned, which would do an enormous amount to control the fairly outrageous prices we’ve seen for pre-owned Rolex over the last few years. Not only would it undercut grey market dealers charging inflated prices without an additional two-year warranty, but it would still maintain the store of value that Rolex watches offer their owners (albeit in a controlled way).

RELATED: Rolex Prices Are Up To 32% Cheaper In The UK Than In The US

Rolex Certified Pre-Owned

Without any control over the prices of watches in the certified pre-owned program, it’s feasible that it will only compound the problem of supply further. Unchecked, there’s the possibility of Authorised Dealers charging an additional premium on top of the current market price to account for guaranteed authenticity and an extra two-year warranty, which will only balloon the market further.

Another question is how the watches in the pre-owned program will be sourced. Will you be able to sell your watch directly to your Authorised Dealer, or will you need to sell it to Rolex directly? If you sell it to your dealer, one assumes they would own the stock and the process of authenticity guarantee and servicing, while if you sell it directly to Rolex, the brand would need a system for pricing, negotiating and buying the stock before allocating pre-owned watches to its Authorised Dealer network.

Fittingly, only time will tell how these market dynamics play out as the new program is rolled out around the world, but there’s one thing for sure – it’s going to be fascinating to watch unfold.

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Nick Kenyon
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au


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