According to the French Competition Authority, Rolex has been ordered to pay 91.6 million euros (around 87 million francs at current prices) for prohibiting its authorized distributors from selling the watches online for more than ten years.
In a press release published Tuesday, the Competition Authority fined Rolex France, Rolex Holding SA, the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, the owner of the company (financially committed to the Aventinus Foundation, owner of Le Temps SA), as well as Rolex SA, for its capitalistic, organizational, and legal links. The fine is “accompanied by a communication and publication injunction”.
According to several sources, the crown brand is the most important player in the French market due to its notoriety and market share. Since the start of the year, France has been the eighth destination for Swiss watches, according to data from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH).
Pellegrin & Fils, a diamond jeweler with boutiques in the south of France, and the Watchmaking Jewelry Union, which represents 2,700 professionals, contacted the regulator. It “considers, in fact, that the stipulations of the selective distribution contract linking Rolex France to its distributors characterize a vertical agreement restrictive of competition”.