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Rolex faces a 100 million dollar fine for obstructing online watch sales

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Rolex fined by France's competition regulator Credits: Rolex

France’s competition regulator, the Autorité de la concurrence, has imposed a substantial fine of 91,600,000 euros on Rolex France, along with Rolex Holding SA, the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, and Rolex SA.

The penalty is in response to industry referrals and subsequent investigations from Rolex's prolonged prohibition - exceeding a decade – to prevent its retailers from engaging in online sales, a practice which violates competition regulations.

Despite Rolex's argument that this ban was essential to combat counterfeiting and protect brand image, the Autorité deems it an unjustifiably restrictive measure. The regulator emphasizes that other competitors facing similar risks have successfully implemented less restrictive measures to facilitate online sales.

According to the regulator, the fine reflects the gravity and extended duration of these restrictive practices, which have adversely affected consumers and retailers. The action comes at a time when online distribution of luxury goods, including watches, has experienced significant growth over the past 15 years.

In a statement the Autorité said its decision not only entails a financial penalty but also requires Rolex France to communicate the ruling to its authorized retailers. Additionally, Rolex France must publish a summary of the decision on its website within two months, with a seven-day consecutive display. The ruling extends to print and digital editions of notable publications, including Le Figaro and Montres Magazine, ensuring wider dissemination of the decision's details.

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