THE value of Swiss watch exports during the first half of 2019 was nearly identical to that recorded for the same six-month stretch last year. The result, however, is better than expected, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH).
Latest figures released by the group showed the value of Swiss watch exports amounted to CHF10.7 billion from January to June this year, a nearly flat 1.4% increase from the CHF10.5 billion posted during 2018’s equivalent period.
The Swiss watchmakers’ group does not release actual sales figures, only the value and volume of exports.
FH attributed part of the increase to European markets’ anticipation over the effects of Brexit and to an exhibition of rare items in China. The results point to an “encouraging trend” for the year, it said.
The group also noted export values in the first three months of the year were up 2.9% from the comparable period from the year prior, but that “the second three months of the year suffered from the sharp decline in June, causing results to stagnate.”
FH data bared exports in June this year, valued at CHF1.74 billion, represented a 10.7% drop from the CHF1.95-billion take in June 2018. The group blamed the “complex environment created by competition and constantly changing consumer behaviors” as reason for the decline. The commercial, political and economic situation also caused a cautious approach in the market, according to FH.
However, it added that “while all these factors have an impact on growth, it will remain positive in 2019 and initial indicators suggest this will continue in 2020.”
The group’s data also bared wristwatches accounted for 94% of total export value, placed at CHF10 billion, an increase of 1.3% compared to the CHF9.9 billion logged in the first half of 2018. Mechanical watches also generated 83% of export sales this year, driving up value. Export values of watches priced at over CHF3,000 posted a 6.0% increase during the first half while export values of cheaper ones fell 15.5%.
Six among the top 10 destinations for Swiss watches all posted increases in export values, but the leading market — Hong Kong — registered a 6.6% drop, or CHF1.45 billion in the first half this year versus CHF1.55 billion from January to June in 2018. In contrast, export values for the US during the same period rose 7.1%, China 13.5%, Japan 21.8%, UK 26.3%, Singapore 12.8% and UAE 4.9%. Similar to Hong Kong, export values for Germany dropped 2.0%, France 5.7% and Italy — the top 10th market — 8.2%.
FH noted the decline in Hong Kong was duplicated in other Asian markets like Saudi Arabia (down 13.0%) and Thailand (falling 26.4%).