GENEVA - Rolex will begin issuing certificates of authenticity to authorised dealers selling its pre-owned watches, in a move that will give the Swiss company more oversight of its products and shake up the US$20 billion (S$27 billion) market for second-hand luxury timepieces.
Swiss dealer Bucherer will be the first to begin selling pre-owned Rolex watches that are certified as authentic by the company at stores across Europe, Rolex said on its website.
Other authorised Rolex dealers can begin participating in the programme in the spring of 2023.
Rolex said it will certify only watches that are at least three years old in an effort to dissuade so-called flippers who sell new watches at prices above retail.
The move to authenticate its own pre-owned watches marks a significant shift for Rolex, whose timepieces dominate second-hand sales at dealers and online.
The luxury pre-owned watch market is expected to grow to US$35 billion by 2030, according to Deloitte.
Rolex previously had no role in authenticating or tracking its products once they had been sold to its dealer network. The programme will also help to guard against fakes.
Non-authorised dealers who sell second-hand watches in person and online, as well as auction houses, will not be able to take part.
Other Swiss watchmakers have already been certifying second-hand 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 Constantin and a stable of brands such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and A. Lange & Sohne, bought online reseller Watchfinder in 2018.
In some cases, the programme will most likely see authorised dealers selling certified pre-owned watches at higher prices than new ones offered at retail. Models such as the Rolex Submariner, Daytona and GMT typically sell at a premium to retail prices as retail demand outstrips supply.
Rolex is the biggest Swiss watch brand, producing about one million watches a year with annual sales of about 8 billion Swiss francs (S$11.6 billion) and a market share of close to 29 per cent, according to Morgan Stanley estimates. BLOOMBERG