Rolex is starting to sell officially certified used watches
Rolex officially launched a program for certified pre-owned watches in December as second-hand luxury watches continue to drop in price.
Rolex, the iconic retailer of luxury watches, is making its first foray into the second-hand market.
Last week, the Swiss company launched a "Certified Pre-owned Programme" for watches that are at least three years old. High-flying customers can now purchase a second-hand Rolex through Bucherer, the brand's official retailer, in six European countries, according to a company press release.
Rolex has historically certified its products with a guarantee card and green seal. Now, certified pre-owned watches will be minted with the brand's official insignia as well.
New watches usually receive a five-year warranty, but certified pre-owned ones will only receive a two-year warranty, according to a Rolex press release.
Rolex's decision comes at a volatile time for the second-hand luxury watch market as prices for iconic timepieces have come crashing down. The price of the Rolex Daytona — one of the brand's flashiest models — has dropped from a peak of $48,500 in mid-March to around $30,151, according to watch price tracker WatchCharts.
Prices for models from brands like Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe have been steadily declining as well.
The drop in prices comes amid a recent surge in supply. According to a report by Morgan Stanley reviewed by Bloomberg in October, analysts noticed a "dramatic" increase in the supply of second-hand watches. Morgan Stanley told Bloomberg the surge was likely due to watch dealers and individual watch dealers "off loading their stocks."
Rolex might be stepping into the second-hand arena as a way to mitigate the declining prices and keep control over the market.
"The new programme makes it possible to purchase pre-owned watches that the brand itself has certified and guaranteed. Its aim is to bring added value to the existing supply of pre-owned Rolex watches. Because when these watches change hands, their authenticity must be attestable at the time of resale by the Official Retailers," Rolex noted in the press release.
Just months ago, Rolex watches were actually in short supply. Prices had surged through the roof.
Over the course of 2021, the average price for a Rolex Daytona — one of the brand's most prized models— shot up by 34%, according to Insider.
Some customers — with money to spend and nowhere to go amid the pandemic — began directing their funds to second-hand watches through lively online auctions. Others likely saw them as a more stable asset class that would retain value amidst shakier investments in stocks and crypto.
Still others, who had made money off their investments in crypto, wanted to put their newfound wealth toward luxury timepieces in what Bloomberg called the "bling boom."
All of that contributed to a hot market for second-hand luxury watches. A report from McKinsey in June 2021 predicted that the market would swell from $20 billion in 2021 to $29 billion in 2025.
While prices for second-hand luxury watches have dropped considerably over the past few months, they haven't completely wiped out their pandemic gains. Prices for Rolex watches are still up 21% since January 2021, according to Bloomberg's review of Morgan Stanley's report.
Gear Patrol noted that other pre-owned watch dealers may need to drop their prices even lower to compete with Rolex which might "bring the Rolex price bubble back down to earth."
Rolex did not immediately respond to Insider's request for a comment.