Swiss watch exports post first gain in 10 months

Total Swiss watch product exports (including movements and clocks) rose 4% in value—to about $578.5 million—in September 2002, compared to September 2001. It was the first such increase in 10 months, says a new report of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Exported finished watches alone rose over September 2001, to 2.4 million units (a 10.9% gain) and a value of about $527.5 million.

The report notes, however, the gain is against export results for September 2001, which were “quite low” following the terrorist attacks in the United States.

For January to September 2002 alone, total exports’ value dropped 2.9%, to almost 5 billion. For finished watches, the value dropped 2.4%, to $4.5 billion. Stainless steel watches remain the leading category of Swiss timepieces, up just 0.3% in value to just over $1.8 billion and 7.7% in number (8.6 million units). However, steel and gold watches dropped 2.5% in value to $719.2 million and 8% in number (546,137 units). Gold-plated watches were down 2.1% in value to about $75.8 million.

Among precious metal watches, gold timepieces, for 2002’s first nine months, were down 8.4% in number experts (356,011 units) and 5.9% in value (almost $1.3 billion). Platinum watches rose 12.9% in export value to about $91 million but dropped 20.2% in number to 6,325 units. Silver watches were down 20.9% in value (almost $13.6 million) and 16.2% in number (27,381 units).

For the United States, the largest market for Swiss watches, exports for the first nine months of 2002, compared to 2001, dropped 2.9% in value, to about $744 million but increased 1.4% in number, to just over 2.7 million units. Compared with 2000, exports to the U.S. were down 12% in value and 13.2% in units.