PARIS — The Swiss watch industry suffered last year its first decline in exports since 2009.
Sales abroad decreased 3.3 percent in 2015 to 21.5 billion Swiss francs, or $21.68 billion at average exchange rates for the period, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
As such, annual sales fell back to 2012 levels following two years of consolidation, the federation said, with a 22.9 percent decline in exports to Hong Kong weighing heavily on the balance. Other factors included the overvaluation of the Swiss franc, the economic slowdown and political tensions in China, the situation in the Middle East, the weak ruble and terrorism, the federation added.
It expects such factors to continue to impact exports in the first part of this year.
“Watch exports are likely at best to achieve the same value this year as in 2015,” the body stated.
In volume terms, watch exports fell 1.6 percent last year. Watches priced below 200 francs, or $202, were hit least, with their exports dropping 1 percent. The 200 franc to 500 franc, or $202 to $504, category was the hardest hit, registering an 8.7 percent decline, while for watches priced between 500 francs and 3,000 francs, or $504 and $3,026, and above 3,000 francs, the declines were 4.3 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.
Asia accounted for half of Swiss watch exports and saw a sharp decline of 9.1 percent, while Europe, which accounted for one-third of sales, saw a 6.1 percent rise. Sales in the Americas fell 1.9 percent, declining from September onward.