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France Fined Rolex $100M For Banning Online Watch Sales.

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France Fined Rolex $100M For Banning Online Watch Sales.

(CTN News) – Purchasing a new Rolex in France might become slightly more convenient shortly. the Swiss watchmaker has recently been penalized with a hefty $100 million fine by the antitrust agency of the country.

This penalty was imposed due to Rolex’s practice of prohibiting its authorized dealers from selling watches online. While Rolex argues that this offline-only sales approach is necessary to combat counterfeiting and parallel trade, France’s Autorite de la Concurrence has dismissed this justification.

The regulatory body issued a ruling on Tuesday, stating that the policy violates French law. It further emphasized that this policy hampers marketing channels, negatively impacting both consumers and retailers.

The ruling highlighted the significant growth of online distribution for luxury products, including watches, over the past 15 years.

Alongside the substantial fine, Rolex has been instructed to inform its retailers about the decision and to publish a summary of the ruling on its website for seven consecutive days within the next two months.

The decision seems to be a direct response to the introduction of its highly promoted Certified Pre-Owned program, which permits authorized dealers to sell watches online.

This program not only allows it to have better control over its products in the secondary market but also assures collectors that they are purchasing an authentic item.

A study conducted by Watchfinder & Co. in July revealed that approximately half of the luxury watch market consisted of counterfeit Rolexes.

During that time, the CEO of the company, Arjen van de Vall, stated to Bloomberg, “Rolex is the most desired luxury watch brand and therefore, it is the most replicated.”

However, numerous high-end brands are frequently imitated but do not offer their new products for sale online. For instance, purchasing a Chanel handbag requires direct communication with a salesperson, and acquiring a Royal Oak necessitates a visit to one of Audemars Piguet’s authorized dealers.

Rolex may choose to challenge the ruling, but if it remains in effect, it could potentially pave the way for increased online sales of exclusive luxury goods.

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