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Swiss Watch Industry Calls Time on Booming Growth of Prior Years

  • Analysts see 2% increase in exports, down from 19% in 2011
  • Slowdown may shake out smaller players as competition mounts
A shopkeeper assists a customer at a luxury watch store in Lugano, Switzerland, on Nov. 20.

A shopkeeper assists a customer at a luxury watch store in Lugano, Switzerland, on Nov. 20.

Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

As the Swiss watch industry prepares for fourth straight year of little to no growth, big producers such as Richemont, the owner of Cartier, are trimming back investment in production while some smaller rivals look for a buyer or risk going under.

The world’s biggest watch-producing country will register a 2 percent increase in shipments next year, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. That’s the same rate of 2013 and 2014, a far cry from growth of about 20 percent in prior years.