PARIS — Swiss watch exports collapsed in April, diving 81.3 percent as stores and factories remained closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Tuesday.
Watch exports totaled 328.8 million Swiss francs, or $338.63 million, an “extremely low” level, said the federation, noting the figures reflected “an exceptional situation rather than a trend in demand.”
“The details of this widespread decline are not particularly interesting — except for China,” it said.
While the industry’s leading markets posted declines in the 70 to 85 percent range, exports to China dropped 16.1 percent, following an increase there in March, accounting for a third of all exports over the month.
Exports had dropped 21.9 percent in March, but the federation had cautioned that steeper declines were expected in April, characterizing the 40 percent-plus drop in volumes of timepieces as more representative of the state of the watch market at the time.
The collapse of exports in April was reflected across all price ranges, which were down 70 to 85 percent. In recent months, a divergence had emerged between better-performing higher-priced watches, and lower-end timepieces that have been most challenged by competition from the Apple watch.
The declines were also equally spread across categories of materials, all of which were down 75 to 90 percent, with the steepest decline from timepieces made of both gold and steel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened challenges facing the industry, which has in recent years struggled to find relevance with younger consumers and the rising popularity of the Apple Watch.
Swiss watch exports also speak to the wider health of the global luxury market.