The Swiss watch industry achieved record exports in 2013 worth 21.8 billion CHF, up 400 million CHF or 1.9% on 2012, supported by increased demand for more expensive timepieces.
While volume was down by more than one million units, with 28.1million watches shipping (down 3.6%) in 2013, a price segment shift resulted in greater value.
Watches in the sub 200CHF (export price) segment dropped by 8.5% to 18.2million units with greater interest at the 200-500CHF segment, where exports were up 14.2% by volume and 12.7% by value. Exports of watches valued 500-3,000CHF dipped slightly by volume (-1.4%) but remained stable in terms of value (0.2%). The increase in total value of exports was supported by greater demand for expensive watches costing more than 3,000CHF, with volume up 2.8%.
Figures released by Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) show that growth was stronger in the second half of the year (3%) than the first (0.7%), which the FH believes should lead to increased growth in 2014. While the positive outlook for most regions should contribute to this, growth in Far East has been flagged as ‘more moderate’. Strong sales in Europe bolstered the first six months of the year before Asia became a ‘driving force’ in the summer while American displays moderate yet very uniform growth.
The top three markets for Swiss watch exports were Hong Kong (4.12bn CHF, -5.6%), USA (2.2bn CHF, +2.4%) and China (1.44bn CHF, -12.5%). The UK was the strongest international market among Switzerland’s Top 15 customers in terms of growth. Swiss watch exports worth 952.7million CHF entered the country and represented an increase of 18.2%, with orders only slowing in the fourth quarter.
Steel watches remained stable in 2013 selling 1% more units while the value of those pieces was up 4.9%. Demand at the top end of the Other Metal category also saw volume drop (-11.7%) but total value increase by 15.7%. The value of the precious metal watch market held steady at (-0.3%) while there was an 8.4% drop in demand for watches made of other materials.