British businesses imported Swiss watches worth CHF 126.5 million in February, alone, in a sign that they fear supplies may be disrupted during the ongoing Brexit turmoil.
They may also be concerned that the pound could crash again if the country reaches the cliff edge of a no deal departure from the EU.
The Federation of Swiss Watch Industry reported exports worth CHF 1.8 billion, up 3.4% on February 2018. The vast majority of that growth came from the UK. All other European markets, other than Spain, saw year on year falls.
“The extraordinary growth in the United Kingdom (+58.3%) accounted for 80% of the increase worldwide and is explained by stockpiling ahead of Brexit,” the Federation says.
In the first two months of 2019, exports to the UK were up 40.9%.
Worldwide exports for watches priced at less than CHF 200 recorded a significant decline of around -15% in February. The CHF 200-500 range remained stagnant, while the CHF 500 to CHF 3,000 segment fell for the fifth time in six months.
Timepieces priced at over CHF 3,000 continued to show strong growth, a trend that has now been almost uninterrupted for nearly two years.