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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Swiss watch exports rise fastest in four years last month

Timepieces rebounding as Chinese crackdown wanes with value hitting almost Dh7bn

A Swiss-made Patek Philippe watch. Exports of timepieces from the country are booming. Denis Balibouse / Reuters
A Swiss-made Patek Philippe watch. Exports of timepieces from the country are booming. Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Swiss watch exports rose at the fastest monthly pace in more than four years in October, helped by an easy comparison with last year and fuelled by Asian demand for higher-priced timepieces.

Shipments oif watches by makers such as Patek Philippe, Longines and Tag Heuer increased 9.3 per cent to 1.85 billion Swiss francs (Dh6.97bn) in October, the sixth consecutive monthly increase, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said on Tuesday. The gain is the biggest since January 2013.

The latest export figures underline the industry’s recovery after it exited its longest slump on record earlier this year. Gains have been led by China, as the effects of a four-year crackdown on corruption waned, with the US lagging behind.

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There has been a “massive” recovery in the market and Swatch Group’s sales accelerated in October after rising more than 10 per cent in September, the chief executive Nick Hayek told NZZ am Sonntag. The company’s Omega brand unveiled its first e-commerce site, for the US market, on Monday.

Some clouds lie on the horizon, among them an anti-corruption campaign in Saudi Arabia similar to China’s. Still, the Middle East market is smaller than that of the Asian country, which is the biggest consumer of Swiss watches.

Smartwatch competition has been weighing on less expensive timepieces. Apple has said sales of its Apple Watch have risen more than 50 per cent for three straight quarters. That is weighing on less expensive Swiss timepieces the most. Shipments of watches with wholesale values of less than 200 francs fell 3.4 per cent in October, the only price category to decline.

Watches costing 500 francs to 3,000 francs rose 20 per cent, leading gains.