Swiss Watch Exports Plunge Amid Halt in Asia Demand

Swiss watch exports recorded a steep decline in March as demand in China and Hong Kong dipped below that of four years ago, during the height of the pandemic.

Shipments of timepieces slid 16% to CHF 2 billion ($2.2 billion) for the month, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported Thursday. The downturn followed a 3.8% fall in February, the first drop in more than two years, as appetite began to falter in Asia.

“Swiss watch exports recorded a sharp decline in March,” the federation noted. “China and Hong Kong accounted for a particularly high proportion of the trend. China suffered a decline…dropping to a level below that of March 2020, when the sector practically came to a halt in the middle of the month because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hong Kong…saw a similar change.”

Supply to the US fell 7% to CHF 340.5 million ($374.5 million). In China, the federation’s second-largest market, shipments plunged 42% to CHF 150.2 million ($165.2 million), and in Hong Kong they plummeted 44% to CHF 148.1 million ($162.9 million). In Japan exports saw a 3.5% drop, while they slipped 3.6% in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Decreases of 15% in Singapore, 13% in the UK and Germany, and 12% in France were closer to the global average, the federation explained.

Timepieces at each price point noted decreases. Watches that cost less than CHF 200 ($220) fell 19%, as did those priced between CHF 200 and CHF 500 ($550). Watches valued at CHF 500 to CHF 3,000 ($3,300) slid 38%, while those worth over CHF 3,000 decreased 10%.

For the first quarter of the year, exports went down 6% to CHF 6.08 billion ($6.69 billion).

Source: Rapaport