In a move no one saw coming, Rolex unveiled a Certified Pre-Owned programme that enables retailers that are part of the brand’s official distribution network to sell second-hand models acknowledged as authentic and come with a new two-year international guarantee. This deal is only available at Bucherer boutiques in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Denmark and the UK, from this month. Other Official Rolex Retailers who choose to be part of the programme will be able to do so starting next year.
This programme attests to the authenticity of second-hand Rolex watches – that are at least three years old – at their time of resale by an official retailer displaying the special Rolex Certified Pre-Owned plaque. It guarantees that these watches benefit from the quality criteria inherent to all Rolex products and from the full know-how and professionalism of the brand’s worldwide network of experts.
The Certified Pre-Owned seal that accompanies the watches confirms their status as certified second-hand Rolex timepieces. A guarantee card bearing these words, “Certified Pre-Owned”, delivered at the time of the sale, officially confirms that they are genuine and guarantees their proper functioning. It also serves as an official certificate of authenticity.
This is hugely significant announcement from a brand that has in the past not publicly acknowledged the popularity of its watches on the second-hand market (or even the existence of that). But it raises many questions, the most evident of which is how popular this programme is going to be, how retailers will respond and the perennial question that ceaselessly plagues Rolex: Can supply keep up with demand. We’re also curious how Rolex will deal with issues like the originality of the parts – if a strap or bezel had been replaced, for example – or parts changed during regular servicing.
Rolex is hardly the first watch company to take over its second-hand market but with arguably the highest number of its models sold outside official distribution channels, this is a game-changing decision set to cause ripples across the industry. At present, local retailers of the brand have yet to confirm if you can pick up a Certified Pre-Owned Rolex from their boutiques next year, although it seems like it may just benefit them – an additional revenue stream doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. Customers also stand to benefit: If you have the wherewithal to acquire a new Rolex, by all means. But if something pre-owned strikes your fancy, this is your chance to get one too.
Until the initiative is actually deployed, it’s hard to see how things will pan out. Time will tell.