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Another record year for Swiss watch industry

The label "Swiss Made" proved popular with American consumers Keystone Archive

Switzerland's watchmaking industry enjoyed another record year in 2001, despite a global economic slowdown.

Exports increased by 3.5 per cent to reach SFr10.7 billion ($6.23 billion), according to a report released on Friday by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry in Biel. However, exports decreased significantly in December, with a 14 per cent drop.

Swiss watchmakers expect results for 2002 to be at best similar to those of the previous year.

“The slump in the Swiss watchmaking industry occurred later than in global markets,” the Federation said in its report. Despite predictions of economic growth for this year’s second semester, watchmakers expect the rise in sales to be delayed.

Swiss Made

The United States is the biggest importer of watches “made in Switzerland”, with annual imports reaching SFr1.585 billion. Hong Kong and Japan are just behind, with imports worth respectively SFr1.508 billion and SFr1.052 billion.

Hong Kong bought six per cent more Swiss watches last year, and led world imports during the last two months of 2001. Japan saw imports leap to just over 13 per cent.

Italy, Germany and Britain were also significant clients of the Swiss watch industry.

The average price of exported watches rose by 17.4 per cent last year to reach SFr367. In contrast, only 3.5 million watches were shipped out of Switzerland – 12 per cent less than in 2000.

More platinum and gold

The rise in the average value of exported watches was due to a greater use of noble metals, such as platinum and gold. Sales of steel watches abroad remained stable, with a 40 per cent share in exports.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR