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Swiss Watch Exports Tick Up 2%

July figures are touted as fourth best on record, despite a slowdown in China.

PARIS — Swiss watch exports rose 2.2 percent in July, despite a sharp slowdown in gold timepieces and weakness in China, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said.

 

Foreign sales of Swiss watches totaled 2.02 billion Swiss francs, or $2.14 billion at average exchange rates for the period, with the federation touting July as the fourth best month on record.

 

“This level has never been reached so early in the year before,” it noted.

 

China resumed its downward trend after a recovery in June, with July exports slipping 9.7 percent, while the slowdown in Hong Kong was less marked at minus 0.9 percent.

 

Exports rose 13.2 percent to Germany, 9.8 percent to Italy and 0.6 percent to the U.S. In France, sales declined 18.1 percent.

 

Strong exports of steel watches, with unit volumes increasing 3.8 percent, helped offset an 11.1 percent drop in gold watches. Other metals and materials gained 12.5 percent in the month.

 

Watches in the 200 to 500 francs range, or $215 to $537 at current exchange, rose 20.6 percent in value terms, with all other price segments logging flat figures or minor increases.

 

In a research note, Citi analyst Thomas Chauvet said the move back to positive figures after a 3 percent decline in June reflects a “further normalization in exports” to reflect elevated levels of inventories in Greater China last year.

 

“We believe that soft underlying demand for high-end watches in Mainland China could limit a recovery of the sell-in for another few months, while sell-out in Hong Kong and Macau seems to have recovered as highlighted by several industry players,” he added.