News Thursday, July 19th 2012
The Swiss watch industry continued to record strong growth during the first half of 2012 while maintaining a brisk pace. The excellent results for 2011 have been surpassed with ease and the sector appears to be showing no signs of weakness. The total value of exports by Swiss watch manufacturers amounted to 10.1 billion francs in six months. The ten billion franc mark has therefore been exceeded before the middle of the year, which is a first. This result represents an increase of 16.4% compared to 2011.
The first six months all recorded steady growth. Only April (+8.5%) failed to show a two-digit rate of variation due to a very unfavourable base effect. June produced the best performance with an upturn of 21.7%.
The sector continues to have the wind in its sails, despite a high base of comparison and a difficult economic environment. The European situation and news of a slowdown in China appear to be having no effect on watch exports buoyed by growing demand, particularly in the luxury segment. As a consequence the trend has outpaced the final annual target, which forecast growth but at a level only half as high as that of 2011.
Wristwatches accounted for the major part of watch and clock exports. Their total value was 9.5 billion francs, 16.9% higher than January-June 2011. The number of timepieces remained close to the previous level at 14.1 million units (+1.4%).
Timepieces manufactured from precious metals recorded the highest increases. Gold in particular made a strong showing, bringing it on a par with steel in terms of export value even though the number of pieces is not comparable. While the total increase in volumes was modest, most materials played a contributing role.
Growth was driven by the segment of watches costing more than 3,000 francs (export price). Here, value rose by 25.4% compared to 2011. Timepieces costing less than 200 francs recorded a decline in the number of pieces (-1.9%), offset by the upturn in the 200-500 franc category (+11.0%). Watches between 500 and 3,000 francs recorded a more modest increase (+3.4% by value and +4.7% by volume).
Other products exported by the Swiss watch industry totalled 615.8 million francs (+9.4%). In this category, supplies as a whole recorded a downturn (-16.2%), while exports of movements were up 11.5% in value terms. Alarm clocks and other clocks accounted for a low value of 19.0 million francs, comparable to last year (-1.5%).
All the figures released by FH refer to exports data and not to sales to end-consumers. Differences between these two types of data may therefore exist. These data must be regarded as consolidated figures gathering export results from all Swiss watch companies. They obviously cannot reflect the individual results of one particularcompany or group of companies, knowing that business activity may greatly vary from one to the other.
Not all regions of the world showed the same vigour during the first half-year however growth was evident on most of the Swiss watch industry’s main markets. Thanks to a marked upturn, Hong Kong once again confirmed its leading position and continued to gain market share. For more than a year, the United States has stabilized its growth at a high level. China saw its progress slow in recent months, while keeping pace with the world average. The situation in Europe improved sharply at the end of the period, thanks in particular to a strong showing by Germany. However the picture was mixed in terms of results on the main markets. France lost ground slightly, Germany was one of the most dynamic markets, and Italy recorded a more modest, albeit significant increase. The United Kingdom remained on a positive trend, while Spain maintained its 2011 level. In Asia, all markets recorded positive results. Singapore and Thailand showed a single-digit rate of variation. The pace was faster in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. The Middle East for its part was situated close to the world average. ■
Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH