PARIS – Swiss watches are feeling the impact of the sour economy.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said October sales grew 0.1 percent to 1.7 billion Swiss francs after growth in excess of 15 percent in the previous months.
The trade association said that 2008 would “end on a good result,” but that the new data shows that growth is “clearly at a low ebb and will accentuate its decline at the start of 2009, or even later.”
The data seems to confirm analysts’ fears that the Swiss watch trade, which has enjoyed several years of robust double-digit growth, is set for a precipitous decline in demand.
Richemont, the owner of Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin, last week said October sales proved rough as the reality of financial market turmoil affected consumers.
The Swiss watch federation said sales to the U.S. declined almost 12 percent, while exports to Japan dropped 7.4 percent. Exports of watches to Hong Kong and Germany both grew more than 11 percent.
By material, steel watches – typically the material used for the least costly pieces – fared worst, falling more than 13 percent in October, while gold watches fell 7 percent. Exports of more platinum watches grew 232 percent while silver and gold-plated watches increased 50 percent.