Swiss Watch Exports Set 18-Year Record

Initial figures indicate “a particularly good result for Swiss watch exports” in 2007, says a new report by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, capping what it called “a record year and growth unrivaled over the last 18 years.”

For 2007 as a whole, watch exports tallied 15.96 billion (about $14.6 billion), a 16.2% gain. (May was the only month without a double-digit increase, while January was the only one that didn’t exceed one billion francs—about $915.4 million—in exports.)

The biggest gains in export value in 2007 were by watches of 18k gold (+24.9 percent) and steel (+14.7 percent), the latter still the largest market share.

In total, 25.9 million wristwatches left Switzerland in 2007, over a million units more than in 2006 (+ 4.2 percent).

Timepieces costing more than 3,000 francs, or about $2,746, (export price) registered very high rates of growth and were “a real engine of growth for the industry,” says the FH report. In value, they increased 25.3 percent and in numbers, by 16.7 percent.

Wristwatches priced below 3,000 francs posted more moderate growth (up 7.4 percent in value and up 3.7 percent by volume).

In other products: Watch straps and bracelets rose 8 percent in value; movements, mainly electronic, up 21.3 percent; dials by 7.4 percent, alarms and clocks both by 15.8 percent.

Among top export markets for Swiss watches in 2007, the United States remained the leader with 2,440.9 billion francs ($2.233 billion), a 6.7 percent rise.

It was followed by Hong Kong (2.433 billion francs, $2.226 billion, +25); Japan (1,207.4 billion francs, $1.1 billion, – 4.7 percent); Italy (1,021.1 billion francs, $934.4 million, 13.3 percent); France (982.9 million francs, $899.4 million, +20.9 percent); Germany (829.3 million francs, $702.5 million, +7.9 percent); Singapore (670 million francs, $613 million, +24.3 percent); Great Britain (658.6 million francs, $602.4 million, +11.6 percent); China (557.6 million francs, $510 million, 43 percent); and the United Arab Emirates (527.6 million francs, $482.6 million, +36.6 percent).