May sees another increase in watch exports

In five months, shipments of Swiss timepieces have exceeded the 10 billion franc mark, standing at 10.9 billion, and are 11.3% above their 2022 level.

Growth in Swiss watch exports returned to a sustained pace in May. It reached 14.4% on an annual basis, for a total value of 2.3 billion francs, after a gain of 6.8% in April. The industry’s number one outlet, the United States, is back on positive ground.

In five months, shipments of Swiss timepieces have exceeded the 10 billion franc mark, standing at 10.9 billion, or 11.3% above their 2022 level, the Federation of Swiss watchmakers said on Tuesday. Swiss watch industry (FH).

According to figures from the Federal Office of Customs and Border Security (OFDF), exports from the sector swelled to 2.3 billion francs in May, a level qualified as a record, which represents an increase of 16% over a year.

According to the FH, watches in precious metals experienced strong increases during the month under review, both in number of pieces (+20%) and in value (+15%), totaling 850.6 million francs . “They have clearly contributed to the total increase, as have bimetallic timepieces”, the value of which jumped 27% to 354 million francs. Steel watches totaled 807.4 million (+6.1%).

The total number of products exported increased by 20% compared to May 2022 and by almost 15% since the start of the year, to 1.4 billion pieces.

By price range, wristwatches costing less than 200 francs (export price) jumped by almost 28% in both volume and value. In the high-end segment, items worth more than 3,000 francs swelled by 13% and 15% respectively.

The United States finds colors

Of the six major markets, only Singapore fell (-1.7%). The United States (+9.8%) quickly erased the drop in April and returned to robust growth. China saw its level multiplied by 2.5, due to a favorable basis of comparison, without however equaling the situation reached before the confinement of Shanghai (-10.1% compared to May 2021).

At the same time, Hong Kong (+19.2%) continued its rapid recovery. Watch exports to Japan (+11.0%) proved to be very solid and achieved one of their best monthly results. Shipments to the UK increased by almost 7%.

European markets posted an increase of 8.8% on average. France struggled (-2.9%) when Italy (+23.1%) stood out.

The trend remains “very positive for all markets”. Only South Korea (-22.4% in May and -14.0% since January), still in need of Chinese tourists, saw its result deteriorate significantly.

UBS notes that the figures presented on Tuesday are 7 percentage points lower than those of May 2019. The trend is more resilient, in particular regarding the highest prices, for Richemont, whose stock is recommended for purchase (buy ). For Swatch (neutral), the situation is more mixed, because while the segment below 200 francs has made the most progress, that of 200 to 500 francs remains under pressure.

Analysts consider the Geneva luxury group better positioned in a weaker macroeconomic environment. The recovery in spending by buyers is confirmed in Hong Kong and mainland China, while that of Americans will have to be scrutinized in the coming months.

Barclays for its part retains that the key markets have reported solid growth. The United States remains in the lead, weighing 15% of exports. This is a positive signal, given the high basis of comparison and the macro-economic context. China represents 10% of shipments abroad. Experts believe that the monthly acceleration is favorable to Richemont and Swatch, which will publish their results in July.

On the Stock Exchange, these good figures did not have the good fortune to arouse the enthusiasm of investors: the bearer Swatch ended down 1.3% at 255.10 francs and the registered Richemont by 0.8% at 146.75 francs, in an SMI and an SLI down 0.80% and 0.9% respectively.

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