After a 2018 that saw mostly sustained export growth, Swiss watch industry exports were stable in January 2019. They stood at CHF 1.6 billion (roughly the same in U.S. dollars), or 0.2% higher than one year previous. The first half of 2018 saw particularly strong growth, so the base effect that affected this month’s growth will continue through June (exports grew more than 10% in 4 of the first 6 months of 2018). As we covered in our 2018 Swiss watch exports recap, 2018 saw total growth of 6.3%, even as the month of December saw a decline in exports.
Watches made from precious metals was the only materials category to see growth, jumping 9% in January. Steel was down 2.6%, while the other metals and other materials categories fell more drastically, 16.8% and 7.7%, respectively.
The list of the top importing countries looked familiar, with Hong Kong leading the way, followed by the United States, China, Japan and the United Kingdom. China was down 14.8% over last year, but this is largely because of a strong base effect — the market grew 44.8% in January 2018. After a couple hiccups toward the end of 2018, growth renewed in the United States.
As has been the trend, watches priced at less than CHF 500 took the most substantial hit, while the high-end category — above CHF 3,000 — continued to see growth. So, while unit total sales were down 14% year-over-year, the total value of exports remained slightly positive.
For the full report, visit the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.