Swiss watch exports registered strong growth in March and for the first quarter overall. Exports to the U.S. were up 56% in March and 6.7% for the quarter. Though the numbers reflect improvements against admittedly terrible year-earlier figures, the results confirm that a recovery is under way, with exports returning to 2007 levels.
The moving 12 month average shows the corner has been turned.
In March, the sector exported the equivalent of 1.2 billion francs, an increase of 32.8% compared with March 2009. Bimetallic watches saw their value more than double. Gold and steel timepieces were up sharply. The number of timepieces exported also rose, buoyed by the categories of bimetallic, steel, and other materials. In three months, volumes increased by 900,000 units (+19.8%) compared with 2009.
Broken down by export price, watches below 500 francs showed only modest or even slightly negative growth, while timepieces above 500 francs made steady progress with a growth rate exceeding 40% in value terms.
Several geographic markets surged ahead in March, particularly the top three. Hong Kong and China saw very strong recoveries, and the U.S. also bounced back strongly, benefiting in particular from a favorable base effect. The main European markets lost ground, even though Germany recorded a double-digit increase. Overall, the continent registered an increase of 7.4%. As in previous months, Asia was the sector’s main engine of growth.
Looking at the first quarter as a whole, the gains and losses for the top 10 markets compared with year earlier figures are reflected in the chart below.