Last month, the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned program was launched, allowing authorised second hand sales of Rolex watches for the first time ever. It received mixed reviews early on. Prices were high, particularly as grey market prices were dropping significantly, and many questioned the logic paying over and above the already inflated prices.
Now, Nick Hayek, CEO of the Swatch Group has announced that his brands won't be following suit. In an interview with Bloomberg (opens in new tab), Hayek said, "This is a market that is regulating themselves. Why should we mix ourselves into the market of used watches?"
It's big news. The Swatch Group owns Omega, the brand best known for the Omega Speedmaster and, more recently, the MoonSwatch collaboration. Omega's are widely renowned as some of the best watches on the market, with METAS certified movements that go above and beyond the competition to keep your watch as accurate as possible.
The program may have been met with mixed reviews, but one thing was certain – it allowed Rolex to have control over the pre-owned market for their watches. It's an area which most watch brands are unable to influence, leaving a market of second hand dealers to self-regulate.
In extreme cases, this can lead to poor practice, where fakes, or watches of other dubious origin, are sold as the real deal. In a self-regulating market, there is a lesser degree of protection for the buyer, making an authorised pre-owned watch worthwhile.
But it's a problem that plagues Rolex unlike any other brand. Real or fake, Rolex watches outnumber other brands significantly. While there definitely are fake Omega's – and other Swatch Group brands – out there, they simply aren't as commonplace as fake Rolex watches.
For that reason, I can understand Hayek's decision to stay out of it. The added value just isn't there in the same way as it is for a brand like Rolex. There are much more important things for him and the Swatch Group to be focussed on – like getting more MoonSwatches manufactured in 2023!