Swiss watch imports dip as Brexit stockpiling unwinds


Stockpiling of Swiss watches ahead of the previous Brexit deadline in March has unwound over the summer, according to the latest export figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

Exports to the UK dipped by 0.4% in July, but are 22% up in the year-to-date following a massive spike in exports in the first quarter of the year.


Exports to the UK for March, alone, were up 78% on the same month in 2018.



Globally, exports rose by 4.3% in July to CHF 1.9 billion.

The shift in output from Switzerland continues towards higher end watches. Exports for watches priced at over CHF 3000 rose by 8.5% in July while all other price categories fell.

Hong Kong has imported watches worth 5% in the year to July, due largely to three months’ of protests bringing key districts to a standstill.

Additional detail on the type of watches being exported has also recently been added to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reports. Dating back to 2000, the analysis shows how rapidly Swiss watchmakers have shifted focus from making quartz-based watches to pieces housing mechanical movements.

Back in the year 2000, over 27 million quartz watches were exported compared to just 2.5 million mechanical timepieces.

Fast-forward just 18 years and exports of quartz watches dropped to around 16 million units while mechanical watch exports had risen to 7.5 million.



The switch from quartz to mechanical is even more dramatic when you look at the value of exports.

In 2000, quartz watch exports were worth CHF 4.8 billion and mechanicals worth CHF 4.4 billion.

By 2018, the figure for quartz watches had dropped 25% to CHF 3.6 billion while mechanical watch exports had risen in value by 270% to CHF 16.3 billion.


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