2004 Half-Year Exports ‘Very Good,’ Say Swiss

Export results for 2004’s first half were “very good” for Swiss watchmakers, says the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), representing more than 90% of Swiss watch firms. The value of exports of Swiss watches, parts, and clocks was just over $3.9 billion, an increase of 10% compared with figures from January-June 2003. If the six-month trend continues for the rest of the year, the full year’s results “would more than wipe out the decline recorded in 2003,” said the FH report.

FH president Jean-Daniel Pasche at FH’s annual meeting in July predicted growth in 2004 would be “maintained at a rate of several percent,” and said the industry could “see a return to the record figures posted in 2001-2002.” However, he cautioned, fluctuating economic conditions and geopolitical events could affect that.

The value of exported finished watches alone during the first half of 2004 was about $3.6 billion, a 10.8% gain. About 12 million pieces were sent abroad, a 7.5% gain or 835,000 more than last year. Gold watches increased 8.3%, to $939.2 million. The gains for platinum and silver timepieces also topped 25%, and steel—the most widely used material—recorded a “very satisfying” 18%, said the report.

In markets, the United States reinforced its position in 2004’s first half as the leading market for Swiss watch exports at $656.1 million, a 16.3% gain “well above the average.”

Japan, the third largest Swiss watch export market, was down but is showing signs of recovery, while the situation in Hong Kong has “changed very markedly” since 2003, with “excellent” gains for May and in June, said the FH report.

Watch exports to Europe generally weren’t expected to show any real gains before 2005, though figures for Italy and France were positive. Those for the United Kingdom continued to decline. Several Asian markets recorded double-digit gains, especially China, which continued “at an excellent level,” said the FH report.

Top 15 Swiss Watch Export Markets
(Jan.-July 2004)

Market Export Value in millions of dollars % Change from 2003
Source: Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry
1. United States 656.1 +16.3%
2. Hong Kong 605.1 +11.4
3. Japan 332.8 -6.3
4. Italy 265.4 +1.8
5. France 222.9 +1.5
6. Germany 193.3 -4.9
7. United Kingdom 191.4 -6.1
8. Singapore 165 +18.5
9. Spain 131 +18.1
10. United Arab Emirates 111.1 +34.7
11. China 101.1 +58.7
12. Thailand 77.9 +6.5
13. Taiwan 74.9 +12.6
14. Saudi Arabia 62.4 +12.8
15. Russia 62.2 +14.8