Swiss watch exports continued to report steady growth in November of 2018, with monthly sales reaching CHF 2.06 billion (about the same in U.S. dollars), a 3.9% increase over November of 2017. The increase continues the overall growth trend in the industry, though the speed of increases has steadily slowed in the latter half of 2018.
Gold-steel drove much of the rise, with sales increasing 13.8% over November of 2017. But steel sales, the largest category, moderated this growth, remaining flat year-over-year. The number of steel units sold actually dropped 5%. Trend spotters, take note!
Performance in price segments varied widely, with the only increases in sales of watches over CHF 3,000, which were up 8.4% in sales. The CHF 500-3,000 category remained stable, while the under CHF 200 and CHF 200-500 category dropped significantly in value, by 12.6% and 13.6% respectively. This is a trend we recently wrote about in “Watches and the Rise of Affordable Luxury.” Throughout the Swiss watch industry’s sustained growth period, the boom has been driven by the super-luxury watches, and not the low end or “entry-level” luxury space.
Most of the large geographic markets enjoyed positive growth as well, led by the United States, which grew by 17.6% over last year. Of the top 6 countries by sales, only the United Kingdom saw a drop in in November, keeping in line with the country’s decline over all of 2018. China again showed strong growth with a 15.1% increase in sales, but the U.S.’s strong month confirms that 2018 is not the year China will become the second-largest market for Swiss watches.
ContinueD Export Growth in Important Markets
“Asia (+8.2%) continued to grow, though somewhat slowly than previously. Hong Kong (+9.5%), China (+15.1%), Singapore (+9.5%), UAE (+12.5) and South Korea (+15.8%) were among those making a significant contribution to global growth,” the Swiss Watch Industry Federation’s (FH) press release pointed out. Meanwhile, Europe is down 5.9%, with Germany the only country really showing growth. France was up 11.1% due to re-exportation of goods.
The Swiss watch market continues to enjoy a long run of growth, even with signs of slowing throughout the world. This is largely the tale of economies writ large, so it will be interesting to see how the Swiss watch industry and its brands deal with the potential slowed growth or downturn expected over the next couple of years. Meanwhile though, it sounds like two tone gold-steel watches are in, so go and get your Gordon Gecko on, you filthy animal!
For the full press release, head to the FH’s statistics website.