Swiss watch exports rose to a near-record high in July this year, almost reaching their October 2014 levels when the market was at its peak, a report by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) said recently. The exports in Swiss watch brands rose to their highest in almost eight years, while there is still a long way to touch the high it experienced between 2012 and 2014. Overall, the positive trend in the Swiss watch export market globally was seen from the beginning of the year, and continued till the first half. However, China and Hong Kong were notable exceptions in the scenario.
“The very positive trend in Swiss watch exports seen since the start of the year continued in July. Exports grew by 8.3 per cent compared with July 2021, to 2.2 billion francs, the highest monthly result achieved since the record performance of October 2014,” said the Federation. However, the industry is still at an all time low despite the solid growth, and has achieved less than half of the figures recorded ten years ago.
Top Swiss watchmaking brands including Rolex, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Breitling, Tag Heuer and Patek Philippe, have seen a downwards spiral in growth figures ever since Apple entered the sector with its smartwatch Apple Watch. However, a pandemic-induced rediscovery of Swiss watch brands by cash-heavy consumers who sat at home for months led to an increase in demand for these luxury watches. Between January to June this year, Swiss watch exports logged a value of 11.9 billion francs, an 11.9 per cent growth as compared to the first semester of 2021.
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“Watches priced at over 500 francs (export price), which account for over a third of volumes and almost 95 per cent of export turnover, grew uniformly in both value (+10.8 per cent) and number of items (+10.7 per cent),” said FH in its report. Steel watches were the main contributor to the growth, while precious metals including gold and silver also contributed to the numbers.
“The 200-500 francs segment (-29.2 per cent in value) continued on a significant downward trend that has persisted almost uninterrupted since early 2020. Conversely, watches priced at under 200 francs (+5.3 per cent) recorded their sixth positive month of the year,” said the federation.
The United States (+13.5 per cent) confirmed the slowdown in growth that began in June, while maintaining a very steady momentum. China (+18.4 per cent) returned to growth following the lifting of the main Covid restrictions, after a slow second quarter (-43.3 per cent). Hong Kong (-11.9 per cent), however, failed to show any improvement in July, as growth faltered.
As an illustration of the contrasts that persist in Asian markets, Singapore (+29.1 per cent) grew strongly, while Japan (-1.4 per cent) suffered what is undoubtedly a temporary slowdown. In Europe (+8.0 per cent compared with July 2021), the main markets produced higher than average growth, such as in the United Kingdom (+11.8 per cent), France (+11.5 per cent), Germany (+12.6 per cent) and Italy (+31.3 per cent).