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Year 2014: moderate growth for the Swiss watch industry

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In 2014 exports of the Swiss watch industry recorded a total value of 22.2 billion francs, corresponding to an increase of 1.9% compared to 2013.


Watch exports remained positive over the year, despite a gradual loss of momentum. While the first half-year saw an increase in value of 3.1%, growth was only 0.8% in the second half with a negative trend observed in November and December, linked to the autumn events in Hong Kong and the decline of the Chinese market.

Exports by the Swiss watch industry consisted essentially of wristwatches. With a value of 21.0 billion francs, these accounted for nearly 95% of total exports. 28.6 million watches left Switzerland in 2014, almost half a million more than in 2013.

Growth was buoyed by mechanical watches, which recorded upturns both in value and volume terms (+3.4% and +8.8% respectively). They accounted for just over a quarter of timepieces exported and generated nearly 80% of sales. Quartz watches stagnated in volume terms (-0.9%) and lost several points in terms of value (-4.1%).

Regarding markets, the American continent (+4.5%) recorded above-average growth, thanks mainly to the United States (+6.2%). Asia recorded an upturn of 2.8%, albeit with disparities between markets. Hong Kong attained the same level as in 2013. The leading market for Swiss watch exports staged a recovery in the first half-year, but showed little movement in the second half, before hitting a wall at the end of the period. On a broader scale, China showed the same profile however the final result was negative (-3.1%). Despite a slowdown which took effect in September, Japan (+15.2%) ended the year with an excellent result. Middle Eastern markets also registered strong increases, however the best performer was South Korea (+18.5%) which continued to surge ahead.

Europe ended the period with a decline of 1.2%. Not all markets followed the same trend. Italy remained stable (+0.5%), whereas Germany (-6.4%) and France (-6.0%) recorded downturns of similar magnitude. The United Kingdom (+2.3%) and Spain (+9.8%) recorded above par results, while Russia (-1.2%) ended the year slightly below its 2013 level.

The table below shows the trend in the January-December 2014 period in the fifteen main markets (total value in million Swiss Francs and % variation by comparison with 2013):

1
Hong Kong4,122.90.0%
2
USA2,377.7+6.2%
3
China1,401.5-3.1%
4
Japan1,330.6+15.2%
5
Italy1,235.0+0.5%
6
Germany1,223.7-6.4%
7
Singapore1,119.8-1.4%
8
France1,119.3-6.0%
9
UAE1,017.6+8.9%
10
United Kingdom973.8+2.3%
11
South Korea636.5+18.5%
12
Spain466.5+9.8%
13
Taiwan443.9+3.0%
14
Saudi Arabia391.4+11.1%
15
Russia276.4-1.2%

In a context which is clearly less robust, especially after the recent move by the Swiss central bank to remove the 1.20 peg in the EUR/CHF exchange rate, forecasts have been revised. In 2015, watch exports are expected to remain stable in relation to 2014. Exchange rate fluctuations in particular will continue to be monitored closely and the results of the first months of 2015 will be decisive in assessing the general situation.

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