Soaring Swiss Watch Exports Promise Steady Growth For The Industry

Soaring Swiss Watch Exports Promise Steady Growth For The Industry

By Neha S. Bajpai
14 Jul 2023
3 min read

Led by the U.S. and China, the demand for luxury timepieces in precious metals has been on an upswing over the last five months

As global economists argue possibilities of a worldwide recession this year, the luxury watch market seems unaffected by any kind of uncertainty. The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) recently reported that the first five months of 2023 witnessed 11 percent growth in the value of exports compared to the same period in 2022. The total export value for all Swiss watches in this period was an impressive 10.9 billion Swiss francs.

Although watch shipments to the U.S. dipped slightly in April (for the first time in two years), the market jumped considerably in May by 9.8 percent to nearly 359.4 million francs. Taking in the highest share of exported watches, the U.S. has been reporting a consistent surge in demand over the last three years. However, despite the rapid growth in America, Asia remains one of the most promising regions for Swiss luxury timepieces. Shipments to China – the second largest market – increased 2.5 times in April (158.3%), as the country’s lockdowns eased after the pandemic.

Hong Kong, once the top contestant for Swiss watch exports, has been on a consistent path to recovery. In March, Hong Kong took a big leap (+61.9%) to touch 265.2 million francs and continued on a rebound with an increase of 19.2% in April. According to the FH report, watch exports to Japan (+11.0%) were very solid, registering one of their strongest monthly results at 161.8 million francs. Deliveries to European markets rose 8.8 percent, as a surge in Italy offset a decline in France, the Federation said.

2022 was a golden year for Swiss watch exports that touched $2.3 billion – a record high since October 2014. And this year seems to be even better, thanks to the unwavering demand for pricey timepieces from brands like Patek Philippe, Rolex, Cartier, Audemars Piguet and Omega. According to FH, watches made from precious metals rose sharply, by both number of items and value. “These made a significant contribution to overall growth, alongside bimetallic watches. Products in the other materials category saw a sharp increase in volumes (+74.0% compared with May 2022). The total number of watches exported rose by 230,000 units (+19.7%), and has grown by 840,000 items (+14.6%) since the start of the year,” states the report.

The only price category that has been dipping for a few years is the one priced less than 200 francs. However, this category also showed a silver lining with a significant growth in April: 28.4% in units and 27.4% in value.While shipments of watches priced above 3,000 francs rose 15%, those between 200 francs and 500 francs dipped 3.7% in value.

While trade pundits are betting high on a consistent growth trajectory for the market in the second half of the year, some economies might prove tricky for collectors’ sentiments. Overall, it’s going to be an interesting space for anyone even remotely interested in timepieces. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks!

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