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Life & Style

Luxury watchmaker Rolex to begin certifying used watches as genuine

  • Company says will only certify watches that have been purchased at least three years ago
Published December 2, 2022
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Luxury watchmaker Rolex SA will start issuing certificates of authenticity to authorised dealers selling its pre-owned watches, a move seen as giving the Swiss company more oversight of its products and stir up the $20-billion market for secondhand luxury timepieces, reported Bloomberg on Thursday.

Swiss dealer Bucherer will be the first to begin selling pre-owned Rolex watches that are classified as authentic by the company at stores across Europe, added the report.

Other authorised Rolex dealers can begin participating in the programme beginning Spring 2023, the report added.

Rolex said it will only certify watches that have been purchased at least three years ago in an effort to dissuade flippers in the market who drive up the price of newly released watches by offering them at above retail.

Luxury watchmakers face soaring demand, but there isn't enough time

This move to authenticate its own pre-owned watches marks a significant shift for a luxury brand like Rolex, whose timepieces dominate secondhand sales at dealers and in the online marketplace. The luxury pre-owned watch market is expected to grow to $35 billion by 2030, according to Deloitte, added the Bloomberg reporte.

Rolex previously had no role in authenticating or tracking its products once they had been sold to its dealer network. The move will also help to bolster its brand against weeding out fakes.

Unauthorised dealers who sell second-hand watches in person and online as well as auction houses will not be able to participate in the programme.

Other Swiss watchmakers have already been certifying secondhand watches. Rolex watches account for the largest share of pre-owned watches sold.

Smaller rival brands including Vacheron Constantin and Zenith sell certified pre-owned watches at their own boutiques, as do independent brands such as H. Moser & Cie and MB&F.

Richemont, which owns Vacheron as well as a stable of brands including Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and A. Lange & Sohne, bought online reseller Watchfinder in 2018.

Chinese snap up used Rolexes, Birkins to satisfy luxury cravings amid slowdown

In some cases, the programme will likely see authorised dealers selling certified pre-owned watches at higher prices than new ones offered at retail. These models including perennially popular categories such as the Rolex Submariner, Daytona and GMT that typically sell at premium to retail prices as retail demand exceeds supply.

Earlier, it had been reported that demand for luxury watches soared after many cash-rich consumers discovered Swiss brands from Rolex and Omega to Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe while relegated to their homes during the pandemic.

Rolex is the biggest Swiss watch brand producing about 1 million watches a year with annual sales of about 8 billion Swiss francs ($8.5 billion) and a market share close to 29%, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.

Swiss watch exports reached record levels in July with prices reaching their highest values in eight years as demand for Rolex, Omega and Vacheron Constantin timepieces kept booming, reported Bloomberg in August.

Swiss watch exports at near-record levels as industry booms

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