PARIS — Swiss watch exports gained 5.2 percent, fuelled by gold and bimetallic timepieces, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported.
Foreign sales of Swiss watches totaled 2.28 billion Swiss francs, or $2.39 billion, according to the federation. Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the period in question.
Watch exports rose 4.5 percent in volume terms and 5.1 percent in value terms. Sales of gold timepieces advanced 7.6 percent on a value basis, while gold-steel watches recorded an 8.1 percent gain.
Watches costing less than 200 Swiss francs, or $209.80, posted a 7 percent increase, while those costing more than 3,000 Swiss francs, or $3,147, were up 8 percent. However, those in between — in the range of 200 Swiss francs to 3,000 Swiss francs — were down 2.6 percent in value terms and 0.9 percent on a volume basis.
The federation said about one quarter of the Swiss watch industry’s 30 key markets posted downturns in October, while the remainder registered significant, often double-digit gains. Exports to Hong Kong rose 5.3 percent, while sales to the U.S. advanced 22.4 percent and those to Japan were up 8.3 percent. Europe posted a 1.9 percent increase, due largely to smaller markets.
Exports to China registered an 8.6 percent decrease, the country’s seventh monthly decline in 2014.
“The October data is a small positive considering the potential disruption in Hong Kong, the Swiss watch industry‘s largest market in value,” Citi analyst Thomas Chauvet said in a research noted, estimating Hong Kong accounts for around 20 percent of total exports. “However, these events have probably not yet fully impacted the sell-in. We will need to closely monitor exports data in the coming months in the run-up to the Chinese New Year. Recent data points from key industry players remain weak and the near-term outlook uncertain.”
Since the beginning of this year, Swiss watch exports have grown 3.1 percent to 18.4 billion Swiss francs, or $20.36 billion.
Later on Thursday, the luxury team at Exane BNP Paribas released a report on Richemont, following meetings with its financial executives. The Exane team said the Cartier watch business is still “suffering,” and sales in Hong Kong and Macau are both down in the double-digits.
It also said that with regard to watches consumers are trading down, which is putting pressure on Cartier gold-on-gold watches and jewelry watches as well as Piaget, which has no steel models.
The US remains a very strong market, with part of the buoyancy in the last trading update from the fast growth of Net-a-Porter. Chloe’s losses are going up, and the handbag business continues to struggle, while Dunhill will get worse before it gets better.
The bank also said that Richemont is putting a lid on operating costs: A hiring freeze is in place, excluding stores and watchmaking and the company is also making changes to senior compensation to value “creation goals.”