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Monday, July 8, 2013

Swiss Watch Exports Saw a Dramatic Drop in May

The Breguet Classique Chronométrie 7727 in 18k rose gold. Both gold watches and timepieces of more than $3,000 saw declines in May.

The value of Swiss watch exports for the month of May fell 3.9% year-over-year to 1.8 billion francs ($1.86 billion), according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH). The culprits are a double-digit drop in gold watch exports and double-digit declines in exports to China, Hong Kong and France,

Swiss watch exports grew 1.7%, year-over-year, during the past five months.

The decline in May is mainly attributable to gold watches, FH said, which posted a year-over-year 13.9% drop in terms of units and a 12.2% value decline. Silver and gold-plated watches saw a remarkable 163.2% increase in units but suffered a 46.3% drop in value. Meanwhile, platinum watch exports fell 2.5% by unit while its value increased 12.8%. Steel watch exports increased 1.2% by unit and 2.1% in value. Over the past five months, 840,000 fewer watches were exported—a year-over-year decline of 7.3%.

Watches between the export price of 200 and 500 francs showed positive growth in May (nearly 20% by unit and about 15% by value). “This was significant, but affected only a limited number of timepieces,” FH said in its report.

All other price segments saw a decline, “in some cases quite pronounced,” FH said. Timepieces costing less than 200 francs saw its volume contract by 14.2%. Between 500 and 3,000 francs, the decline was near 7%. Watches costing more than 3,000 francs recorded its first monthly decline in more than three years, “a relatively minor setback however since the value fell by 4.1% from a very high level in May 2012,” FH said.

Among the main markets, Hong Kong, China and France registered double-digit declines (15.7%, 19.4% and 14.7%, respectively). Exports to the US, the second largest Swiss watch market behind Hong Kong, recorded an increase of just under 1%. Italy and Germany continued to grow, but at a slower rate (4.7% and 8.4%, respectively), FH said.

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