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Geneva fair Luxury watch sector seeks to innovate

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/

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.

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