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The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry Reports Watch Exports Up 1.4% for the First Half of 2019

A slightly positive trend for the Swiss watch industry, but with negative month of June 2019, the outlook remains uncertain.

| By Xavier Markl | 2 min read |

The FHS (the “Fédération de l’industrie Horlogère Suisse” or Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry) just released the export statistics for the first half of 2019. Ex-factory shipments of Swiss Watches rose 1.4% in value to CHF 10.7 billion. For the month of June, exports dropped by 10.3%, thus having a significant negative effect on the entire semester trend.

This performance follows two years of growth (2017 and 2018), but several years of downturn. These results are echoing the overall growth trend of the luxury industry. Still, analysts remain cautious on the watch industry’s prospects. The number of watches exported is down, accentuating the trend observed for years. The number of watches exported fell from 29.6 million watches in 2000 to 23.7 in 2018.

Swiss watch brands are dominating the high-end market but are more and more under pressure for the entry-level segment. In particular, the advent of the smartwatch has come at the expense of the lower-price Swiss watches. Experts forecast that in 2019 Apple alone will outsell the entire Swiss watch industry by volume… The average export price of a Swiss watch was CHF 1,000 over the first half of 2019. In 2000, this average price was CHF 312.

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The industry’s growth for the first half of 2019 is driven by Asia (+2.2% for Asia and +4.4% for the Far East) and the Americas (+4.6%), once again accentuating the dependence of the Swiss watch industry on China. The trend is almost flat in Europe (-0.6%) while exports to Africa (-9.2%) and Oceania (-11.2%) are down over the first semester.

By market, the top 6 markets are Hong Kong (CHF 1.449 million, however at -6.6 %), the USA (CHF 1.158 million, +7.1 %), China (CHF 926 million, +13.5 %), Japan (CHF 798 million, +21.8 %), the UK (CHF 698 million, +26.3 %) and Singapore (CHF 599 million, +12.8 %).

Yesterday, Swatch Group reported sales down 3.7% at constant exchange rates for the first half of 2019. This morning, Richemont released a business statement about the quarter ended June 30th, reporting a 9% growth at constant exchange rate over the period (+3% including online distributors).

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