Mr Montre

Too expensive compared to the gray market?

Since the end of 2022, Rolex has officially been in the CPO market. This news raises the question of how this strategic positioning could influence the gray market, and what the consequences would be for the brand’s customers.

Rolex CPO: certified second-hand Rolex watches

Rolex Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) are second-hand Rolex watches with authentic certification. The purpose of this program set up by the Swiss manufacture is to guarantee the authenticity of its timepieces when they are resold by an official retailer, and to prove that the latter have all the quality criteria inherent in the products of the brand.

This certification takes the form of a specific plaque bearing the words “Rolex Certified Pre-Owned”. It comes with an international warranty for a period of two years from the date of resale.

Rolex CPO: a smart strategy

Although the brand has always sold new models at very high prices, it has recently decided to adapt to the second-hand market and to the extraordinary inflation observed in the world of watchmaking these last years.

CPO certification is therefore a good way for Rolex to counter the many sales made on the gray market, and to directly benefit from the resale of its models. Through the Certified Pre-Owned program, authorized dealers, including Bucherer in Europe, commit to buying back Rolexes that are at least three years old from their owners. Once the purchase has been validated, each watch is verified by the brand, revised, then certified by receiving the famous “Rolex Certified Pre-Owned” seal, accompanied by the two-year guarantee. These models are then presented in the boutiques of retailers such as Bucherer as CPO watches.

These timepieces can only be marketed in the boutiques of certified retailers, and obviously not on the gray market. This allows the brand to reduce the number of its creations resold on the secondary markets, and to keep control of its second-hand models.

Should we invest in Rolex CPOs?

If you were expecting low prices, think again, Rolex CPO prices remain very high

  • , much more than the same new models offered on the gray market. As examples: Rolex Submariner Date
  • (Reference 116610LN): €17,900 with CPO certification, compared to €14,500 for a new model on the gray market. Rolex Submariner
  • (Reference 116618LB) in yellow gold: €51,000 with CPO certification, compared to €42,000 for a new model on the gray market. Rolex Datejust 36

(Reference 116200) with silver dial: €10,000 with CPO certification, compared to €8,000 for a new model on the gray rolex submariner date black dial mens watch 116610ln 0001 85rolex submariner 116618lb 228910 1 220923 104810 jpg

rolex datejust 116200 221491 1 221101 103807 jpg;quality=55;w=12002x

(Rolex 116610LN/Rolex 116618LB/Rolex 116200)

As you can see, the price difference is quite glaring, since the price of Rolex CPOs is on average 21% more expensive than that of new pieces sold on the gray market. Be careful though, it is important to take into account the fact that second-hand watches are not always in the best condition, and that some no longer have their certification and original papers.

A survey conducted at the end of 2022 by the English site, 46% of participants said they did not want to pay more for a CPO timepiece, while 41% said they were ready to pay 10% more. As for the 20%, the average between the price of Rolex CPOs and the price of models available on the gray market, only 11% would be ready to invest.

To be seen in the years to come if this trend is reversed, and if Rolex and other brands with the same approach manage to impose this type of proposal in the face of the growing enthusiasm of watch enthusiasts for the gray market.

* 2023 figures (source: Chrono24)

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