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Swiss watch exports up 16 per cent in first semester of 2012

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July 2012


According to the latest figures published by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) today, Swiss watch exports continued their strong growth in the first half of this year, building on the excellent results for 2011.

The total value of exports was 10.1 billion Swiss francs (the first time that the 10-billion mark has been reached by the middle of the year), which represents and increase of 16.4 per cent over the same period last year.

With steady growth recorded in each of the first six months of the year, April was the only month that did not see double-digit growth (+ 8.5 per cent). Exports showed no sign of slowing down with the last month on record, June, producing the best performance of the year so far with an upswing of 21.7 per cent.

So despite an uncertain economic situation in Europe, persistent rumours of a slow-down in China and very high reference figures to be compared to, the industry still seems in good shape and is even beating its predicted growth for the year.

Although the number of wristwatches exported remained more or less the same compared with the same period last year at 14.1 million units (+ 1.4 per cent), their value increased by 16.9 per cent to 9.5 billion and thus accounted for the lion’s share of the exports.

Luxury watches (those with an export price over 3,000 Swiss francs were the clear winner, with their exports rising in value by 25.4 per cent and precious metal models in particular showing strong growth. Growth was slower in the low to medium range, while there was a slight decline (-1.9 per cent) in exports of bottom-of-the-range pieces (below 200 francs).

The trends in the top 15 markets for the first half of 2012 are as follows:

Rank Country Export value* Growth**
1 Hong Kong 2,175 +25.7%
2 USA 1,074 +18.3%
3 China 834 +16.2%
4 France 615 -1.7%
5 Singapore 539 +6.7%
6 Germany 536 +35.7%
7 Italy 536 +8.6%
8 Japan 504 +31.3%
9 United Arab Emirates 404 +13.0%
10 United Kingdom 337 +16.9%
11 Taiwan 227 +34.2%
12 South Korea 225 +29.8%
13 Spain 168 -0.2%
14 Saudi Arabia 160 +18.1%
15 Thailand 135 +4.7%
*in million Swiss francs
**% comparison with the first half of 2011
(Figures rounded to the nearest million.)

Hong Kong continues to dominate the market, accounting for around twice the exports of the next biggest market, the USA, which has managed to maintain its growth at a high level. The pace of growth in China has indeed slowed, but remains in step with the global average.

Strong growth in Germany helped to boost the situation in Europe, while France, the fourth biggest market for watch exports, slowed slightly. Spain was also slightly down and Italy below the average at 8.6 per cent growth. In Asia, Singapore and Thailand were the only countries with growth below the 30 per cent mark.