If not for a rebound in the Chinese market, June Swiss watch exports would have hit the proverbial basement floor. Even with the watch sales resurgence in The People’s Republic of Human Rights Abuses, the Swiss watch industry took a body blow. The monthly stats coming from the Federation of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (SIHH) reveal a barely mitigated disaster, in one area of the biz in particular . . .
“Overall, 810,000 fewer items (-48.3%) left Switzerland in June, for a total of 870,000 watches,” the SIHH reports. The chart above shows how China accounted for the lion’s share of June Swiss watch exports – and just how bad things were – are? – outside The Red Dragon.
Unlike Richemont, Swatch’s watch brands skew towards the bottom end of the market. Once again, still, that’s the home of the worst decline. Coronageddon damage sure. But the Smartwatch asteroid impact continues to wipe low-end watches off the face of the Earth.
The SIHH summed up the general trend back in January 2020, when it looked over the end of pre-COVID 2019: “Value increases while volume declines.”
There’s the epitaph for low-end traditional watches – unless the Swiss watch industry can come up with a convincing alternative to the Apple Watch, Fitbit and the rest of smartwatch industry.
Meanwhile, the dark clouds of the burgeoning China – America cold war, global recession and civil unrest (with its anti-luxury underpinnings) hang over the Swiss watch industry. At the same time, watch buyers have never had it so good, in terms of quality, variety and price (especially in the pre-owned market).
July’s Swiss watch export stats will be extremely interesting. Will the rest of the world follow China’s lead into watch dealers’ showrooms? Was the China watch sales surge “revenge shopping” destined to sputter when government shopping subsidies run out? Will internet watch sales continue their slow rise to prominence? As always, watch this space.
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