PARIS — Exports of Swiss watches posted double-digit growth in December, suggesting high-end timepieces may sidestep turbulence in the economy thanks to robust business in Hong Kong, Russia and the Middle East.
Capping a "particularly good" year for Swiss firms, the value of Swiss watch exports grew 13.8 percent in December, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Tuesday.
Overall, watch exports bounded 16.2 percent over the full year to 15.96 billion Swiss francs, or $13.31 billion at average exchange rates, underscoring a "record year of growth unrivaled over the last 18 years," the federation said.
Despite signs of difficulty in the global economy, most watch executives remain bullish for the coming year. Fawaz Gruosi, the owner of de Grisogono, said in an interview last week that meeting demand remained his greatest challenge.
Earlier this month in Geneva, Gruosi introduced two new luxury wristwatches, one limited to 177 pieces. Gruosi said 100 of the pieces were already preordered.
Meanwhile, Georges-Henri Meylan, who runs Audemars Piguet, said he, too, had difficulty filling orders.
"I don't see why we should have any problem this year," he said at the introduction a week ago of a watch Audemars designed with Chanel that is expected to retail for 19,000 euros, or $27,740 at current exchange.
Growth remains particularly robust at the top end. The Swiss federation said exports of 18-karat gold pieces grew 24.9 percent in 2007, as exports of steel watches gained 14.7 percent.
Timepieces retailing for 3,000 Swiss francs, or $2,500, and over at export price grew 25.3 percent in 2007. That is on top of growth of 16.7 percent in 2006.
Despite the impressive numbers, two key markets for Swiss firms — the United States and Japan — posted less staggering numbers than the fastest growing markets.
Swiss watch exports to the U.S. gained 6.7 percent last year to 2.44 billion Swiss francs, or $2.03 billion, while exports to Japan declined 4.7 percent to 1.21 billion Swiss francs, or $1 billion.
Hong Kong, in comparison, rocketed 25 percent to 2.43 billion Swiss francs, or $2.03 billion. Most countries across Europe, except Germany, logged strong double-digit gains. And sales to Russia grew 57.4 percent to 322.1 million Swiss francs, or $268.7 million. Sales to China grew 43 percent to 577.6 million francs, or $481.8 million.In separate news Tuesday, Swatch Group, which operates brands Omega, Breguet and Swatch, said it had signed a letter of intent to buy a building in Biel, Switzerland, at which to establish Tiffany & Co.
Swatch Group and Tiffany in December sealed a 20-year strategic alliance for Swatch to manufacture and design Tiffany timepieces. Swatch said the building where Tiffany will be located would cost 2.7 million Swiss francs, or $2.4 million.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye