4 minutes

How have Rolex and their peers changed the secondary market with their certified pre-owned watches?

By Sebastian Swart

Is Rolex pre-owned changing the market?

In February 2023 we published the article “CPO vs. Gray Market: Are Rolex certified pre-owned watches really worth it?” At the time, Rolex’s certified pre-owned program was just a few months old and was still taking its first steps. We used our extensive data to compare the prices of three Rolex models sold CPO and on the gray market at the time and came to a striking conclusion. The prices for unworn CPO watches were on average 24% higher than gray market prices. For used Rolex models, that difference went up to 38%.

Since then, Rolex has significantly expanded its CPO program. When that last article was published, Rolex was only working with the jeweler Bucherer as an authorized dealer. Now they have a number of new partners internationally. As of early 2024, there were 33 Rolex official retailers offering 3,600 Rolex pieces around the world. As expected, CPO prices have remained high despite consolidation of the market, which led to some dissatisfaction among retailers. The retailers would like to have more freedom in setting prices, which would allow them to stay competitive with gray market prices.

In today’s article, we’ll look at prices for the same three Rolex references we examined in 2023 and see how they have performed in the last year. To keep the comparison clear, we’ll once again use Bucherer’s prices as the benchmark.

How do prices differ for unworn models?

Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 116610LN

A Rolex Submariner Date ref. 116610LN CPO cost $19,400 in mid-January 2023, whereas the same watch cost only $15,700 brand new on Chrono24. That gives us a CPO markup of around 25%.

Update 2024

In early March 2024, the Submariner Date ref. 116610LN cost around $15,900. On Chrono24, the watch is available mint condition for just $12,700. That puts the gray market price 25% lower than the CPO price.

Rolex Submariner Ref. 116610LN – auf dem Graumarkt 25 % günstiger als CPO.
Rolex Submariner ref. 116610LN – prices 25% lower on the gray market than CPO

Submariner Ref. 116618LB, Yellow Gold

A Submariner ref. 116618LB in yellow gold went for $55,400 CPO in early 2023. On the other hand, unworn models could be found on the secondary market for “just” $45,600. This put the CPO markup at just about 22%.

Update 2024

The more general fall in prices for luxury watches is particularly noticeable with the Submariner ref. 116618LB in yellow gold. In March 2024, this watch cost “just” $38,300 CPO. However, unworn gray market models of this reference are a tick more expensive, at $39,200 on Chrono24. This case shows a significant change in the relationship between CPO and gray market prices as of early 2024, with the gray market being 2.3% more expensive.

Rolex Submariner 116618LB – auf dem Graumarkt mit knapp über 2 % minimal teurer als CPO (Stand März 2024).
Rolex Submariner 116618LB – about 2% more expensive on the gray market than CPO (as of March 2024)

Rolex Datejust 36 Ref. 116200

Our third example in 2023 was the Rolex Datejust 36 ref. 116200 with silver dial and bar indices. While mint condition models went for around $8,700 on the secondary market, CPO models cost closer to $10,900. That’s a markup of 25%.

Update 2024

In early 2024, you could get a CPO Datejust 36 ref. 116200 for around $9,600. Opting for the gray market would save you about $900, with pieces going for around $8,700. The gap between CPO and gray market is closing in – at 10% it’s less than half of what it was in 2023.

CPO Prices Compared with Pre-Owned Watches from the Gray Market

We’ll now compare CPO prices for the above-mentioned models with offers for used models in good or very good condition.

Submariner Ref. 116610LN

In 2023, you could get a used Submariner ref. 116610LN on Chrono24 for an average of $13,600. Compared to a CPO price at the time of $19,400, that’s a 43% markup.

In 2024, a used Submariner ref. 116610LN goes for about $12,600 on Chrono24, which is still about 25% less expensive than its $15,700 CPO counterpart.

Submariner Ref. 116618LB

The Submariner ref. 116618LB in yellow gold cost about $41,900 CPO and $28,400 on the gray market in 2023. That’s a 32% markup.

In early 2024, a Submariner ref. 116618LB cost just about $36,800 used on Chrono24, and $38,100 CPO. As was the case for unworn models above, prices have changed significantly. The difference between CPO and gray market models is now just 3.5%.

Rolex Datejust 36 Ref. 116200

In January 2023, you could buy a used Rolex Datejust 36 ref. 116200 with a silver dial on Chrono24 for 40% less than a CPO model. About 14 months later, you can buy that model on the secondary market for around $7,800. The savings have gone down to 14.3%. Again, we can see that the gap between CPO and gray market has shrunk significantly.

Rolex Datejust 116200 – rechnen Sie mit rund 10 % CPO-Aufschlag.
Rolex Datejust 116200 – Buying CPO will come with a 10% markup.

Note the condition of pre-owned watches can vary greatly from case to case. There’s also no guarantee that you’ll get a full set with box and papers. So always pay close attention to individual offers!

Summary: In 2024, CPO Isn’t Always More Expensive Than Secondary Market

Based on our comparison of prices for three mint-condition Rolex models in 2023 and 2024, it’s clear that the relationship between CPO and gray market prices is changing. While the ever popular Rolex Submariner 116610LN has become even less expensive on the gray market compared to CPO, the Submariner 116618LB is now a tad more expensive on the gray market than CPO. What we see is that prices have sunk for certain references across the board over the last two years. A Rolex Datejust 116200 on the secondary market has lost just about half of its price advantage over CPO.

These developments show that supply and demand continue to determine prices, and CPO dealers have to respond accordingly when customers turn to the more appealing prices of the secondary market. But as long as buyers are prepared to pay high prices for certain references, prices will remain high on both markets.

What do you think about this article?

About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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