PARIS — Underlining an unrelentingly tough climate for hard luxury, exports of Swiss watches declined 16 percent in October, the steepest fall of the year, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
Only two markets showed improvement: the United Kingdom, rising 9 percent because of the sterling depreciation in the wake of the Brexit referendum, and China, improving 2.8 percent and marking a gradual recovery since July.
Exports fell 21.5 percent to Hong Kong, 16.5 percent to the U.S., 14 percent to Japan and 11.5 percent to Italy.
“The other European and Asian markets reported sharp falls, except for South Korea, at -1.2 percent, where the trend has recovered strongly since the summer,” the federation noted.
Unit sales of timepieces priced at less than 200 francs at export, or $198, fell 22.6 percent.
“The 200 to 500 and 500 to 3,000 francs segments reported falls of between 14 and 16 percent,” the federation said. Reflecting a fall in average price over the past six months, the value of watches priced at more than 3,000 francs dropped 16.2 percent, a steeper fall than units, down 10.2 percent.
In a research note, Citi analyst Thomas Chauvet said the figures were broadly in line with year-to-date trends and reflect a depressed environment.
“The October performance continues to reflect elevated inventory levels within third-party distribution in Asia and the cautious mood amongst watch retailers globally given political uncertainty/‘vox populi’ risks, travel fears after repeated terror events in Europe, depressed oil prices and stock market and (foreign exchange) volatility,” he wrote.