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Swiss Watch Industry Sees Steady Growth

Jun 23, 2019 8:09 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Swiss watch exports rose in May, boosted by increased demand for high-end timepieces.

Shipments rose 11% to CHF 2.04 billion ($2.09 billion), with wristwatch supply increasing 9% to CHF 1.88 billion ($1.93 billion). Exports of other products, which includes clocks, jumped 62%.

Traditional timepieces are making a comeback following a downturn in the market during the 2018 holiday quarter, when sales were surpassed by those of smart watches, according to a report by NPD Group.

“Traditional watches once again captured nearly two-thirds of industry dollars [in the first quarter],” NPD noted.

“[They] are asserting their relevance in a changing market,” added Reginald Brack, watches and luxury analyst with NPD. “[Smartwatches] aren’t replacing the value many consumers still place on traditional timepieces,” he stressed 

Nearly all markets saw an increase in May, with the exception of Hong Kong, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported last week.

“[Hong Kong] recorded a decline for the second consecutive month…confirming the downward trend seen since the start of the year,” the federation added.

Shipments to China surged 81% to CHF 224.5 million ($230.2 million) while those to Hong Kong fell 7% to CHF 272 million ($278.9 million), as Chinese consumers continued to buy domestically. Supply to the US grew 10% to CHF 207.7 million ($213 million), and orders to Japan climbed 40% to CHF 152.3 million ($156.2 million).

Top-priced watches saw strong growth, a trend that has continued nearly uninterrupted for more than two years. Timepieces made from precious metal, and bi-metal watches helped boosts results, the federation noted. 

“Consumers are focused on more manageable-sized, precious metal watches, and the human-powered mechanical options are outperforming their battery-powered brethren,” Brack explained. “The consumer is becoming better educated about the work, craftsmanship and detail involved in creating and manufacturing a living, breathing mechanical movement.”

Swiss watches in a store window in Italy. (Shutterstock)
Tags: Federation of the Swiss ‎Watch Industry, NPD Group, Rapaport News, Reginald Brack, Swiss watches
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