PARIS — Exports of Swiss watches were down 35.1 percent in June, continuing to fall as a strong increase in mainland China was not enough to offset deep declines in other markets, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said on Tuesday.
“The temporary halt in production and sales during the first half of the year had severe consequences for watch exports,” said the federation, noting sales were down 35.7 percent in the first six months of the year.
June exports totaled 1.1 billion Swiss francs, or $1.17 billion, with a contrasting performance in the three largest markets over the month. Business with mainland China rose sharply, with a 47.1 percent increase in exports, while Hong Kong and the U.S. saw steep declines of 54.6 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
Entry-price watches continued to suffer the most, with the value of exported timepieces priced at less than 200 Swiss francs down 48.1 percent in terms of value, and 55.4 percent in number of units.
The most pricey watches, worth more than 3,000 Swiss francs, saw a marginally less dramatic decline, down 33.1 percent in value terms.
In terms of materials, steel watches were the worst-performing category, down 46.5 percent in terms of units, and 37.8 percent in terms of value.
Swiss watch export statistics, while known to fluctuate greatly from month to month, are eyed for clues about the luxury industry.
In a research note, analysts at Bernstein seized on the monthly statistics as offering signs of a recovery, noting that it is led by China while main markets Hong Kong, the U.S. and the U.K. are showing slight improvements month-on-month.
But weakness in lower-priced watches is not a good sign for Swatch Group, the analysts noted. “There is negative read-through for Swatch entry-price brands,” they said.