It is official. From this month, Rolex will sell you a pre-owned watch.
For the first time, the 117-year-old company wants to offer official certification for its used watches. It’s a big and unexpected move from the brand at a time when Rolex watches are harder to come by than ever.
When Rolex itself gives a watch the thumbs up, that’s good enough for almost everyone – but there are still many points that need to be clarified as to how the program works and how it will prove itself in practice.
What we know about Rolex CPO so far:
We’re hoping for more big details soon, but here’s what we know.
How does the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned program work?
Watches certified by Rolex receive a warranty card and seal similar to the famous green seal that accompanies new Rolex watches. They also come with a two-year international warranty (new Rolexes have a five-year warranty). The program applies to used watches that are more than three years old.
Where can I buy a pre-owned Rolex watch?
From December 2022, they will initially only be available in Bucherer boutiques in six countries: Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Denmark and Great Britain. (Sorry, US and everywhere else – MoonSwatches will be easier to come by.) The program will be available to other official retailers sometime in Spring 2023. You can already see certified pre-owned Rolex watches on Bucherer’s website, but they are not available to buy directly online.
Why is Rolex doing this now?
“To enhance the existing range of pre-owned Rolex watches” is the brand’s characteristically opaque and diplomatic statement. Of course, Rolex doesn’t openly draw attention to the burgeoning secondhand market, which has gotten pretty out of control in recent years – and if there’s one thing Rolex likes, it’s control. The move appears to be a way to fight prices and reinsert Rolex’s voice right into the conversation.
It also gives the brand an opportunity to further capitalize on demand that it can’t seem to meet by offering new Rolex watches.
What we don’t know yet
There are still many unanswered, burning questions from many enthusiasts that are not addressed in Rolex’s press release.
What is the actual certification process?
Are watches sent to Rolex or checked on site? Can you go to a retailer and sell or trade in your Rolex right away? Are certified watches also serviced? We have to assume that the brand has carefully considered these questions, but it remains to be seen how the program will be implemented in practice. Rolex also loves Rules: There will certainly be a number of circumstances that will preclude a watch from being certified, but those details have yet to be announced.
How are vintage watches treated?
Collecting vintage Rolex is a world of its own. For example, if the certification includes servicing with exchange parts and polishing (as is included in Rolex’s standard servicing), it will still leave a healthy niche for existing dealers to offer services that leave watches Spicy, original & Correctly — they want that precious patina!
For example, even if the hands or dial of a watch are authentic Rolex, collectors sometimes look for them original (as opposed to replacement parts, even if they’re made by the company itself) – and there’s not much evidence as to how Rolex will handle it.
How will Rolex price its pre-owned watches?
It’s quite a remarkable and awkward situation to see the retail price of a watch next to an empty case – next to a pre-owned model of the same watch that costs more. Pricing a used watch is difficult and involves a number of variables. We have to assume that even certified pre-owned Rolex prices would follow the market, but the brand now has leverage with greater leverage in it.
What impact will it have on Rolex’s existing pre-owned market?
Paul Altieri owns Bob’s Watches, one of the largest pre-owned Rolex sellers online, with its own well-established authenticity certification program. He feels he can still add value by selling online.
“I’ll still bet on the internet when it’s all said and done,” he told Gear Patrol. It’s safe to assume that Rolex won’t be making online sales any time soon.
Some are speculating that existing used car dealerships need to lower prices to be competitive – and that consequently could bring the Rolex price bubble back down to earth and bring it under some control.
We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.