The annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva is where luxury watch brands present their latest models. After a considerable drop in exports to China last year, watchmakers are looking for new clients. (RTS/swissinfo.ch)
If Swiss watchmakers could have stopped time, they would most probably have done so on December 31, 2012, at midnight. That was when 2012 exports reached a record CHF21.4 billion ($23.9 billion).
2013 was also a very good year for the watch industry with a growth in orders of over 2%. Despite the general upward trend, there are concerns about the Chinese market, which saw a considerable drop last year. Exports to Hong Kong were down by 6%, and those to mainland China fell by 15%. These two destinations together make up nearly 30% of Swiss watch exports.
One reason for the drop could be that people are no longer allowed to give away luxury watches as professional gifts, which is a new anti-corruption measure in China. Another reason is that China’s economic growth has weakened.
2014 will require Swiss watchmakers to become much more innovative, focusing on mid-range watches and new markets like India, Africa or Latin America.