Another record year winds up for watch exporters

A historic wall clock in a museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds, canton Neuchatel, cradle of Switzerland's watch-making industry Keystone

The Swiss watch industry is set to exceed 2013’s record exports of CHF21.8 billion ($22 billion) and is optimistic for 2015 despite economic and geopolitical uncertainty. 

This content was published on December 30, 2014 - 12:01 and agencies

In recent months the industry has seen slower growth than in previous years as a result of the weakening global economy and the crisis in the eurozone, which affected the order books. 

Nevertheless, Jean-Daniel Pasche, president of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, dismissed talk of a crisis in the industry. 

Over the first 11 months of 2014, exports of watches and watch components rose 2.3% compared with the same period for 2013, despite dropping by 4.4% in November. 

“One mustn’t forget that we’re active at a very high level,” Pasche said, adding that exports could break the CHF22 billion barrier by the end of the year. 

Oil price impact 

Orders to Switzerland’s main export market, Hong Kong, fell by 13.5% in November but remain up 0.8% for the year. A similar situation was seen in mainland China, the third-largest market, which collapsed by 27.6% in November but looks set to end the year up 0.5%. 

Unlike these Asian markets, the United States, Switzerland’s second-largest market, continued to play the role of a locomotive, confirming the dynamism of its economy. 

Exports decreased, however, to Germany and France. Pasche also expressed concerns about Russia, hit by an ailing rouble as a result of the Ukraine crisis and the falling price of oil. 

Indeed, the collapse of the price of oil could also affect exports to the Middle East, he said. 

Nevertheless, Pasche expects good sales during the Chinese new year in February, the same month Apple launches its smartwatch. In addition, cheap oil could give the eurozone an economic boost.

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