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Fine Watchmaking will sail through 2008

Fine Watchmaking will sail through 2008

Friday, 30 January 2009
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

“The desire to learn is the key to understanding.”

“Thirty years in journalism are a powerful stimulant for curiosity”.

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2 min read

The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie 2009 only recently ushered out its last visitors, and the general feeling is one of relief, boosted by the success encountered by prestige watches, many of which are limited editions. But with all eyes anxiously turned to 2009, what remains to be said about the branch’s performance in 2008?

Extrapolating figures for November, which report a 15.1% drop in exports for the sector in value terms, gives an initial idea of results for December, pending publication of final figures:

Table #1

  • The segment is expected to report around CHF 1.1 billion in export sales of wristwatches for December 2008 (down 15.1%).
  • This counter-performance varies significantly between sectors. Prestige watches (estimated retail price of CHF 4,500 to 9,000) have been hardest-hit, dropping 36%, whereas the mid-range sector (CHF 1,500 to 4,500) loses 26% and “mass market” watches (under CHF 1,500) fall by 15%. The Fine Watch sector (over CHF 9,000) has suffered the least damage, losing 5% in December.


Tableau n°1
Tableau n°1

Table #2

  • Comparison with 2008 overall again shows how the picture varies depending on the segment. Fine Watch export sales are expected to gain close to 19% in value terms. Prestige watches are expected to lose 14.1% and mid-range watches 4%, while the “mass market” segment slowly decreases at -3.9%.
  • Given Fine Watches’ weight in these statistics – they account for around 60% of the export market in value terms – the end result for 2008, all segments taken together, should amount to CHF 15.7 billion, meaning an estimated increase in wristwatch exports of around 7%.


Tableau n°2
Tableau n°2

Table #3

  • Referring to industry statistics since 2001, Fine Watch sales have shot up 164% in eight years (equivalent to annual growth of around 20%), compared with 9.7% for prestige watches and 7.2% for the mid-range segment.

Franco Cologni, President of the FHH, comments: “The sector was beginning to think that trees could grow up to the sky. Let’s be realistic. 2009 will simply take us to the same levels as two years ago, not send us tumbling back to watchmaking’s dark ages!”

Tableau n°3
Tableau n°3
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