Report on Swiss Watch Exports

April 1998

Timepieces:Data & Statistics

Report on Swiss Watch Exports

Steel Outsells Gold, by Value, for First Time

For the first time, steel watches overtook karat gold watches as the Swiss watch industry's top moneymaker last year. The industry exported 8.8 million steel watches with a value exceeding that of karat gold watches, says the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. And this is on top of a 4.3% increase in karat gold watch exports.

Mirroring sales trends seen by U.S. retailers, the Swiss watch industry exported fewer lower- and midpriced watches in 1997 and more gold and steel models with higher price tags.

Counting all types of watches, Swiss watch exports fell in units (down 6.3% to about 2 million), but rose in value (up 11.6% to $6 billion).

Quartz watches accounted for 90.6% of the total.

As for other timepiece products, 6.2 million movements were exported, down 18.1% from 1996. Exports of cases rose 6% in units and 9.5% in value.

U.S. Remains Hot Market
Swiss exports to the United States increased 12% in 1997, the second consecutive year of increases greater than 10%.

Other major markets - including Italy, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, France and Spain - each reported more Swiss watch exports. However, decreases were reported in Japan (still struggling with recession) and Thailand (where a 25-point increase in customs duties in October added to the country's economic stagnation). The Swiss Federation expects Asia's economic woes to come to a head this year. Already, fourth-quarter 1997 exports to Hong Kong fell 9.5% while exports to Thailand plummeted almost 19% in the fourth quarter of 1997 vs. the same period of 1996.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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