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Swiss Watch Exports Soar In All Six Top Markets

Boom times are back in the Swiss watch industry. All six of the top markets for Swiss watch exports, including the U.S., showed increases for the month of August and for the first eight months of this year. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), the value of Swiss watch exports rose 5.5% to CHF 1.5-billion ($1.51-billion) during August, which represents the 16th straight month of growth (the figure represents wholesale value) following a 24-month downturn.

Exports to Hong Kong were up 14.5%, in August. China increased by 18.6%, Japan by 9.9%, the UK was up 0.6%, Singapore soared by 25%, and Japan was up 9.9%. Exports to the U.S. market increased by 9%, signaling a sustained recovery following a downturn here that lasted more than two years. Globally, exports began to rise again in May 2017 after a two-year downturn, but in the U.S. market, the decline continued until February 2018. For the first eight months of this year, however, exports to the U.S. have risen by 7.8% in value to CHF 1.41 billion ($1.42-billion).

The value of Swiss watches exports to global markets has increased by 9.5% over the first eight months of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017, and now stands at CHF 13.8-billion ($13.9-billion). The August export figures represent the 16th straight month of increased exports, following the recent decline, which represented the worst slowdown since the 1980s. While global exports began to recover in 2017, with the year finishing at +2.7% to CHF 19.9-billion ($20-billion), the U.S. market, finished 2017 at -4.4%.

During the downturn, most watch companies created new collections in the entry level price range, with many lowering their introductory price. For August, exports of watches priced in the $200 range declined the most (13.5%), while exports of watches priced in the $500-$3,000 range increased the most (9.4%).

Garry McGuire