Swiss watch exports experienced a slower growth rate in September compared to August, primarily due to the United States and China, which are the country’s two largest markets. According to data from the watchmaking federation, Swiss watch exports reached 2.3 billion Swiss francs (2.4 billion euros) in September, representing a year-on-year increase of 3.8%. This growth rate is lower than the 4% rebound recorded in August. The federation attributes this unfavorable comparison to the two years of exceptional growth prior to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the federation states that this slower growth confirms the anticipated normalization of growth in the industry.

The Swiss watchmaking industry faced a significant decline in 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic. However, it experienced a remarkable comeback in 2021 and 2022, breaking records year after year. Exports reached an unprecedented high of 22.3 billion francs in 2021, driven by the recovery in the United States. This record was then surpassed in 2022, reaching a new peak of 24.8 billion francs as the recovery spread to Europe and luxury shopping by tourists resumed.

Despite a more hesitant trend in 2023, Swiss watch exports have continued to climb with an overall increase of 8.6% in the first nine months of the year. Nonetheless, September showed mixed trends across different countries. Exports to the United States decreased by 6.4%, while China experienced a decline of 5.5% for the third consecutive month. This decline in China is worrisome for Swiss watchmakers, as they had anticipated stronger growth following the end of the zero-Covid policy. In other parts of Asia, exports demonstrated a mixed pattern, with significant increases in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but decreases in Singapore and South Korea. In Europe, exports increased to the UK, France, and Italy, but declined in Germany.

Overall, the September figures reflect a more challenging market environment for Swiss watch exports. The ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China, along with uncertainty surrounding the recovery from the pandemic, have contributed to the slower growth rate. Nevertheless, the industry remains optimistic about the future, as the normalization of growth is expected to persist. Swiss watchmakers will continue to closely monitor market trends and adjust their strategies to navigate these challenges, ensuring they maintain their position as leaders in the luxury watch industry.

Useful links:
Swiss watch exports set new record in 2022
Swiss watch recovery continues despite waning Chinese demand