The latest figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) show January 2013’s Swiss watch exports remained on par with the annual increase in 2012.
Swiss watch exports jumped 10.8% with a total value of CHF1.5 billion (£1.06bn) in January this year, continuing the momentum of the high base of exports recorded in 2012.
The FH said that gold and steel wristwatches in particular had caused a strong upturn in Swiss watch exports, but warned that the decline in export of watches in the “other materials” category – such as ceramic – had outweighed the increases gained by virtually all other timepiece types.
In terms of actual units exported, the FH figures show 2.1 million Swiss watches were exported in January. Stainless steel Swiss watch exports totalled 1.17 million units, while gold watch exports increased 20.4% with more than 35,000 gold watches leaving Switzerland in the new year. However platinum timepieces registered a year-on-year fall in export rates, with an 18.8% decline in units compared to January 2012.
Price was also a key factor in the volume of January’s export rates, affecting in particular the lower end of the market. The volume of Swiss watches with an export price below CHF200 (£141) registered a 10% drop. Conversely, those watches sitting in the CHF200 to CHF500 (£141 to £345) bracket recorded the highest increase, hitting a near 30% rise in export volume.
Demand for mid-market Swiss watches remained mediocre in the new year, with 6.6% growth volume for watches with export prices between CHF500 and CHF3,000 (£345 to £2,124) in January – figures that reflect the ongoing plateau of sales in this mid-price bracket.
However figures for Swiss watches with export prices of CHF3,000 (£2,124) upwards exceeded the sector average, with volumes up 14.3% in January, suggesting a continued appetite for luxury watches at the higher end of the price bracket, echoing UK sales figures which, according to a recent GfK report, reveal that watches with RRPs of more than £1,000 enjoyed a value rise of 4.5% in 2012 compared to 2011. The luxury segment of the market now represents 47.5% of the total market value in the UK, up from 45.7% in 2011.
With a view to Swiss watch export destinations, as expected, the FH figures revealed that the Far East luxury market remains turbulent. While the value of exports to Hong Kong rose significantly, these were offset by a 9.9% drop in export value to China.
The United Kingdom held the 10th position in terms of countries of export for Swiss watches in January 2013, with watches worth CHF58.2 million (£41.1m) at export price entering the country, a value increase of 35% compared to January 2012.
In the rest of Europe the markets recorded strong increases in value terms for incoming Swiss watches, with Germany in particular up 46.3% on January 2012, placing it fourth in terms of individual country imports.
The United States sat behind Hong Kong as the second largest market for Swiss-made watches in terms of export value, despite registering a downturn in export figures as it entered the new year. The value of Swiss-made watches exported to the US in January fell 7% year-on-year to CHF145.4 million (£102.7m).
This news story was take from the March 2013 issue of WatchPro. To read the issue online, click here.