Covid concerns, closures and lock downs relegate UK to the slow lane of recovery

Strong recovery for watch exports

The Swiss watch sales have sprung back to perform at the same level as before the pandemic, latest export figures compiled by the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry show.

Exports worth almost CHF 2 billion were recorded for June, exceeding the same month in 2019 by 12.5%.


For the first half of 2021, global exports worth CHF 10.6 billion are now less than one percent lower than in 2019 and rising fast.

Remarkably, 2021 is on track to be a record year for the Swiss watch industry.

However, the UK, where the country was in hard lock down for the first quarter of the year and a terrified public are only now beginning to emerge after being told to work from home and avoid almost all social contacts, the picture is more bleak.

Despite the success of the UK’s world-leading vaccination programme, Swiss exports  to the UK in June remained 5.4% below the same month in 2019.

For the first six months of this year, the UK imported Swiss watches worth 15.4% less than the first half of 2019.

In the top 10 markets in the world, only Hong Kong, which faces massive political challenges on top of its pandemic crisis, and France under-performed the UK.

Swiss watch exports June to July 2021 compared to 2019.

The United States, described by Bucherer as a “rock star” market earlier this week, has bought Swiss watches worth CHF 275.5 million, comfortably making it the largest market in the world with 14% of all exports compared to 12% for China and 10% for Hong Kong.

For the first half of 2021, Swiss watch exports to the United States are up 24% compared to pre-pandemic 2019 and could end this year as the largest market in the world for the first time since Hong Kong overtook the country in the late noughties.

Mainland China was the largest market in the world last year.

Strong recovery for watch exports

Globally, average transaction values continue to soar as growth in sales of the most expensive watches accelerates.

For watches priced at over CHF 3,000 exports are up 18.1% compared with June 2019, double the rate recorded for watches priced between CHF 500 and CHF 3,000.

The export value of watches priced below CHF 500 francs fell by 13.9%, while the number of units decreased by 30.1%.

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