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Swiss Watches Take a Licking

The industry is lowering prices and looking to new markets.
Greubel Forsey’s Signature 1

Greubel Forseys Signature 1

Source: Greubel Forsey

Last year wasn’t great for Switzerland’s luxury watchmakers, and 2016 isn’t looking any better. At an invitation-only Geneva trade show in January attended by 24 of the world’s most expensive watch brands, the consensus was that Hong Kong’s luxury slump, a rocky Chinese economy, and the November terrorist attacks in Paris—as well as competition from the Apple Watch—will hurt sales this year.

“We expect 2016 to be a very, very difficult year,” Vincent Perriard, chief executive officer of luxury watchmaker HYT, said at the trade show, officially called the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. “One of our points of sale in Paris sold no watches at all, from any brand, from the day of the terrorist attack until now. Zero sales.”