Swiss Exports, Swatch Group Set New Records

The value of Swiss watch exports in 2005 topped $9.3 billion, a new record for the Swiss watch industry and 10.9 percent higher than 2004 figures, said a report by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH. Exports to the U.S. market, the top market for Swiss watches, rose 14.1 percent to $1.6 billion.

Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, said its total 2005 sales rose 8.3 percent to a record $3.5 billion. Both said their record results were driven by demand for luxury timepieces, despite unfavorable economic conditions, especially in Europe.

Boosting the Swiss industry’s year-end results was a 23.1 percent rise in December to $927.2 million. The Federation expects 2006 results to top 2005’s by as much as 6 percent.

For Swatch Group, sales in its watch and jewelry division rose 9.4 percent. The luxury segment, particularly the Blancpain, Breguet, and Jaquet Droz brands and upscale Omega, saw double-digit growth, it reported. (Other major watchmaker groups, including Bulgari, LVMH, and Richemont also reported strong sales in 2005 for their luxury watches.)

Swatch Group also saw strong growth in its other upscale watches, particularly Longines, Rado, and Tissot. In popularly priced watches, headed by its signature Swatch brand, the Group met targeted sales increases, thanks partly to scaling down its range of products. The company said it expected “very solid growth in 2006” and financial results “considerably better” than 2005’s.