Swiss Watch Exports Up 14.9%

The Swiss watch industry is looking forward to another record year in exports, reports the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Supporting that are results for 2008’s first half. The value of exported Swiss watches totaled 8.3 billion Swiss francs ($7.99 billion), or 14.9 percent more than in January-June 2007.

Despite current financial turmoil, the Swiss watch industry is heading for another record year, the fifth in succession, said Jean-Daniel Pasche, FH president, at the organization’s annual general meeting in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Watch exports continue to post “pleasing increases” in value and volume in Switzerland’s main markets (except Japan), he noted. Growth is “even apparent” in the United States. “The watch industry is not therefore affected by the financial crisis. As a result, we’re convinced 2008 will be a good year, with results in exports even better than those of 2007.”

The first half was very favorable for wristwatch exports, said an FH report. Their value rose 15.9 percent to 7.7 billion francs ($7.7 billion), while 12.6 million timepieces were sent abroad, a gain of 7.1 percent (or 830,000 units) over January-June 2007.

Those costing more than 3,000 francs, or almost $2,900 (export price), increased almost 30 percent, both in value and number of pieces. Those under 3,000 francs saw their value increase 2.3 percent on average, while volumes rose by 6.1 percent.

Hong Kong (up 20.9 percent in value, almost $1.3 billion total) was the top market for Swiss watch exports, in terms of value, for 2008’s first half, said the FH report. The United States, in second place, (up 1.8 percent, $1.8 billion total) “continued its slowdown and registered only slight growth between January and June,” it noted. In third place, Japan (down 5.1 percent, almost $536.5 million) saw its situation worsen compared to 2007’s first half.

Despite a below-average rate of growth, Europe remained “an attractive destination for Swiss watches,” said the FH report. France was up 10 percent, Italy up 5.9 percent and Germany up 13 percent, though the United Kingdom (in 10th place) saw a 5.7 percent drop.

The value of exports to China, up 64.1 percent, were “particularly dynamic,” said the FH, while Singapore (up 45.4 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (up 44.3 percent) “also stood out,” it noted. “Asia has become the engine of growth,” said the report.