Swiss watch exports fell in December, with a sharp decline in China outweighing growth in other markets.
Outbound shipments slid 2.8% year on year to CHF 1.63 billion ($1.64 billion), the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported Tuesday.
"Half of the 30 most important markets grew in December, but not enough to compensate for the decline in other outlets,” the federation said. "The drop in sales in China intensified the slowing of growth observed since the beginning of 2018.”
Exports to China plunged 10% to CHF 141.1 million ($142.3 million). Supply to Hong Kong, the Swiss trade's largest export market, inched up 0.5% to CHF 234.8 million ($236.7 million), while orders from the US rose 8% to CHF 174.9 million ($176.3 million).
Total shipments of higher-priced timepieces were stable., Orders of watches priced above CHF 3,000 ($3,024) slipped 0.4% by value, while exports of those worth CHF 500 ($504) to CHF 3,000 slowed 0.5%. Shipments of timepieces priced between CHF 200 ($202) and CHF 500 plummeted 20%, and those valued under CHF 200 dropped 10%.
Exports of gold and steel watches continued to fare well, rising 3.1% to CHF 244.8 million ($246.8 million). Supply of timepieces made from precious metals declined 4% to CHF 505.4 million ($509.5 million), while shipments of steel watches remained flat at CHF 654.5 million ($659.8 million).
Although monthly exports slipped, performance for the year remained high, the federation noted, with watch shipments rising 6% to CHF 21.2 billion ($21.4 billion) in 2018.
Image: Swiss watches in a London storefront. (Shutterstock) Source: Rapaport