Swiss Watch Exports Tank

Cara Delevigne TAG Heuer ad

As 2019 comes to a close, the Smart Watch Crisis continues unabated. As we reported previously, smart watch sales have eclipsed sales of all traditional watches combined. As Tower Of Power would say, there ain’t nothin’ stoppin’ them now. True story: Swiss watch exports are tanking. foxbusiness.com reports . . .

Switzerland is on pace to export fewer watches than it has since 1984. According to a Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry report, the country shipped just under 19 million watches in the 11 months through November, a 13 percent dip from last year. In terms of revenue, exports were down 3.5 percent since November 2018.

Hong Kong watch sales 2019Smart Watch Crisis deniers are free to refute the idea that Swiss watch exports are in the toilet. Exports of Swiss watches priced over 3,000 francs ($3052.39) remained stable in volume terms, with a slight increase in value (+2.0%). Here’s the 2019 worldwide export tally for Swiss watches over 3000 francs [via fhsswiss.com].

Exports Down

Hong Kong -30% [chart above, MAT means Moving Annual Total]
The United Arab Emirates -27.8%
France -17.4%
The United Kingdom -17.3%
China -5.5%
Germany -1.9%

Exports up

Netherlands +67.4%
Singapore +29.6%
South Korea +16.7%
Japan +7.8%
United States +4.6%
Italy +4.1%

[NB: These numbers track the 2019 decline and growth per market. They don’t represent a percentage of total exports.]

Meanwhile, the bottom is dropping out of the market for Swiss watches under 3000 francs ($3,052.39), both in terms of value (-11.5%) and the number of items exported (-17.6 percent).

Swiss watch exports tank as Smart Watch sales soar

Well of course they are. Last February, The NPD Group revealed that U.S. smartwatch sales were up 60 percent from last year, accounting for $5b in sales. A rise that’s continuing at the same pace.

Gerard-Perregaux Laureato: a Swiss watch export

Bottom line: smart watches are killing traditional watches on the low end of the market. While smart watches can’t replace mechanical watches at the top end, it remains to be seen if the next gen is as hot for high horology as buyers who grew up wearing a traditional watch. I wouldn’t bet on it.

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