When Rolex announced last year that they’d be offering their own Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) programme late last year, watch fans were excited… And watch flippers were deflated. Six months on and it’s clear that it’s had a big effect on watch prices – and spoiler alert, it hasn’t made getting a Rolex any cheaper.
The programme, which Rolex initially launched with Swiss boutique chain Bucherer in six key European markets (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Switzerland and the UK) and recently expanded to the US with Tourneau, gives customers the opportunity to purchase second-hand models that are certified as authentic by Rolex themselves which come with a two-year international Rolex guarantee.
At the time, we speculated that Rolex’s decision to offer such a service was to protect their brand and customers (from both the scourge of fakes as well as the unpleasant profiteering that’s rife on the grey market)… But was likely also motivated by a desire to get in on a share of that aforementioned grey market profit.
We also wondered whether or not the CPO programme would push Rolex prices up or down. Well, six months on, and we’ve got our answer: it’s actually pushed them up if anything.
WATCH our guide to the most expensive Rolex watches of all time below.
According to data from WatchCharts, second-hand Rolexes that have been officially authenticated by Rolex currently command a 25% higher price on average across the portfolio across North America and a whopping 29% higher price on average in Europe.
However, they haven’t helped bring Rolex prices across the board down. WatchCharts’ Rolex Market Index – a basket comprised of the top 30 Rolex models by transaction value that’s a reliable indicator of the financial performance of Rolex watches on the secondhand market – has remained mostly stable over the last 12 months, after reaching a high of $38,332 USD in May 2022 only to then fall and stabilise around October 2022 at around $28,500 USD.
What does that tell us? Clearly, consumers are willing to pay more for the piece of mind that Rolex’s CPO programme offers – totally understandable considering how many fakes and dodgy dealers are out there – but their existence has had a pretty negligible effect on the market as a whole.
Some authenticated Rolex watches are more expensive than others
What is interesting is that the ‘CPO markup’ is affecting some models more than others – and it’s actually the most in-demand models that have seen a lower relative increase than less popular ones, surprisingly.
For example, as of publishing, the markup on Daytonas is only 5% over the price for non-CPO models in North America, according to WatchCharts. In comparison, the markup on CPO Air-Kings sits at around 36%. Other interesting comparisons include the GMT-Master (16% higher) and the Submariner (18% higher) compared to the Explorer II (25% higher) and Yacht-Master (28% higher).
In Europe, some models are seeing even more dramatic CPO markups: for instance, Datejusts are now commanding a 103% markup.
Why are the less popular models seeing more of a markup, then? Well, it’s probably because popular models like the Daytona and GMT-Master already trade well above their retail prices on the secondary market, whereas less popular models are more likely to sell at or below their retail prices.
We should also be wary of clear outliers, like Datejusts in Europe. Currently, there are only 5 CPO listings for Datejusts in Europe, meaning it’s a very small sample size. In total, 96 Rolex CPO watches are being sold by Bucherer across Europe, compared to 915 watches across North America being sold by Tourneau. Again, these ain’t huge numbers.
In comparison, leading Rolex marketplace Bob’s Watches – which has its own highly regarded authentication programme – currently has over 700 listings for Rolex watches and sells around 7,000 Rolexes a year… And they’re just one marketplace.
In short, we’ll probably have to wait until more Rolexes enter the CPO programme – and for the programme to expand to other markets (like Australia and Asia, for example) before we can get a clear picture on how it affects both the price and desirability of officially authenticated Rolexes, as well as the Rolex market more broadly. Until then, we’ll just keep saving our pesos.