September sees another spike in watch exports

Exports of Swiss timepieces grew by 3.8% compared to September 2022, totaling 2.3 billion francs, despite a particularly unfavorable base effect.

In September, Swiss watch exports grew at almost the same rate as in August, despite declines in the United States and China, the two most important destinations. Normalization, after the strong post-Covid rebound, continues.

During the period under review, exports of Swiss timepieces grew by 3.8% compared to September 2022, totaling 2.3 billion francs, despite a particularly unfavorable base effect, according to the Federation of Swiss Watches. Swiss watch industry (FH).

“This development confirms the expected normalization of growth, which nevertheless still showed +8.6% for the first nine months of the year,” adds the FH. Since January, the total value sent outside the borders of the Confederation amounts to 19.7 billion francs.

Last year, Swiss watch exports set a new record at 24.8 billion francs, exceeding the 2021 result by more than 11%, thanks to catch-up purchases and the appetite for luxury following the pandemic. of coronavirus.

Declines in the two main markets

Last month, the three main outlets for Swiss watchmaking moved in opposite directions. The United States (-6.4%) and China (-5.5%) saw their results decrease, while Hong Kong (+24.0%) remained very dynamic, notes the umbrella organization.

The other Asian markets also showed sometimes marked differences, with Japan (+8.7%) and Taiwan (+36.4%) progressing in contrast to Singapore (-2.7%) and especially the South Korea (-15.4%). The United Arab Emirates, which is part of the top 10 destinations over nine months, grew by 2.3%.

In Europe, the United Kingdom, the fifth largest market for Swiss watches, grew by 3.0%. France (+15.9%) and Italy (+24.5%) recorded solid increases. On the other hand, Germany (-4.2%) and Spain (-0.5%) struggled.

Since the start of the year, “the top 20 markets have, however, shown sustained growth, with the exception of South Korea.” For the leading trio, shipments to the United States increased by almost 8%, those to China by more than 7% and those to Hong Kong by more than a quarter.

Fastest Growing Most Expensive Watches

In September, the number of parts exported decreased by almost 3%, or 47,000 parts less, held back by steel and the Other materials category.

Watches costing less than 200 francs at the export price – the final price in stores being higher – showed an increase of more than 4%. The 200-500 franc range stagnated, while the 500 to 3,000 franc segment plunged for the third consecutive month. The most expensive timepieces, costing more than 3,000 francs, showed an increase of 8.2%.

Jean-Philippe Bertschy of Vontobel notes that the United States has entered negative territory after strong growth so far in 2023. The collapse of exports to China has slowed down, limited to -6% after -27% in august. The expert notes that the Hong Kong, French and Italian markets have seen the return of tourists.

However, the growth of almost 4% in shipments should not make the sector jump for joy. Only a few brands are successful, and they are in private hands, the analyst recalled.

His counterpart Patrik Schwendimann of Zurich Cantonal Bank (ZKB) points out that today’s figures are slightly positive for Geneva-based luxury brand owner Richemont, given that the high-end segment recorded the strongest growth since June, while they are somewhat negative for the Biel-based Swatch Group, which counts Omega, Longines and Tissot in its portfolio.

He also notes that the United States has declined for the first time since April, after having positively surprised the previous months. He points out that Richemont, which notably owns, for example, Panerai, Jaeger Le Coultre and Roger Dubuis, has already recorded an organic decline in its sales across the Atlantic in the second quarter.

The decline in continental China, which accounted for a quarter of Richemont’s revenues and more than 30% of Swatch’s revenues last year, does not surprise the analyst. He expects a return of Chinese tourists to European and Asian countries in 2024.

This news seemed to please investors. Around 11:55 a.m., the registered Richemont rose 0.9% to 106.05 francs and the bearer Swatch Group gained 2.6% to 231.20 francs, in an SLI down 0.6%.

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