The second-hand watch market is growing rapidly, becoming a segment of the industry that brands can’t overlook anymore. According to consulting firm Deloitte, the market is growing steadily, with a current value in the region of CHF 20 billion. And the potential is huge, as it could be worth CHF 35 billion by 2030. As with such a large segment of an industry, it has to be controlled in certain ways, and this is when watch brands and top-tier retailers enter the room. Their idea to control the market, to offer security and to grab a slice of this immense cake is named CPO or Certified Pre-Owned (a term already familiar in the car industry). A few brands and established retailers have already announced such programmes, but today the situation is getting an entirely new face,as the world’s largest watch brand shows up. Meet the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned Programme.
The market for second-hand watches is huge and it shows rather incredible potential for growth. Of course, the situation isn’t perfect, with a wide typology of actors, from privately-owned local shops selling vintage and used watches, to large retailers offering watches with certifications and warranties, and finally, watch brands themselves starting to offer pre-owned watches – think about F.P. Journe, Richard Mille, MB&F or De Bethune. In order to bring some security to potential customers, and to control some of this market, watch manufacturers, just like car manufacturers, have decided to create CPO or Certified Pre-Owned programmes. A common thing in the car industry, such as Porsche Approved or Ferrari Approved, it has started to spread around the watch industry in the past few years.
What is CPO or Certified Pre-Owned? Basically, a stamp of approval of the authenticity, of the quality and of the proper functioning of a watch, which often comes attached to stringent inspection and a warranty programme. It, of course, comes at a cost, but also should on the principle reassure potential customers before deciding to acquire a used/second-hand watch. The main problem here is that anyone can claim to have their own Certified Pre-Owned programme. Your local retailer could easily create one, even your local used watch shop… The important thing with CPO isn’t really the programme itself, it’s about who is backing it up.
The Rolex Certified Pre-Owned Programme
The market for used watches, and specifically those that are the most often seen and most coveted on this market, is about to change drastically. Rolex has just announced its own Certified Pre-Owned programme. According to the brand, “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.“
What is the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned Programme about? The Rolex CPO programme concern only watches that have been purchased from authorized retailers, and that are more than three years old. The idea here is to prevent flippers and speculators from bringing back “unworn” watches to have them part of the CPO programme. In the very near future, customers who will acquire a watch from the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned Programme will benefit from a certificate of authenticity and a newly issued warranty card, valid for a 2-year period. The latter is marked “Rolex Certified Pre-Owned” and is issued by Rolex themselves, not by the retailers part of the CPO programme. In addition, Rolex will also guarantee the authenticity of the watch subjected to the programme.
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. The Rolex Certified Pre-Owned Programme equally concerns modern pre-owned watches and vintage models.
What to think about it?
The Rolex Certified Pre-Owned Programme is of immediate advantage for the customer. It brings an incredible level of reassurance to potential buyers, who until now might have been slightly reluctant to acquire second-hand watches, having low faith in this relatively complex market. With the Rolex CPO Programme, there’s a tangible guarantee of the authenticity of the watch, of its origin and of its proper functioning. A warranty also is major security for those reluctant to jump into the wagon of pre-owned watches.
The fact that a brand of the size of Rolex acknowledges the importance of the pre-owned market is also a sign of the evolution of the watch industry. This segment of the market, which is fast growing, will now inevitably become even more scrutinized by brands since the main actor of the industry has decided to jump onboard. It has to be said that Rolex doesn’t really need, business-wise at least, to invest such efforts in a Certified Pre-Owned programme. This could mean that the brand has certainly other intentions behind this newly announced CPO strategy. Cleaning the market from fake, badly restored or partially inauthentic watches, lowering the effect of speculators, decreasing the effect of the grey market.