Swiss Watch Exports Have Biggest Monthly Drop in Seven Years

  • Thirteen of top 15 markets for timepieces were negative
  • Decline was much worse than expected, Berenberg analyst says

Swiss watch exports plunged 16 percent in October, the biggest monthly drop in seven years, as demand weakened in almost every major market for Rolex and Omega timepieces.

Shipments fell to 1.68 billion francs ($1.7 billion), the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said in a statement Tuesday. The decline was much greater than expected and was made worse because October was the weakest month of last year, according to Zuzanna Pusz, an analyst at Berenberg.

The longest slump in more than two decades is threatening employment in the Swiss watch industry, which had been riding a boom as rich Chinese bought more timepieces. Richemont plans to cut more than 200 positions at brands such as Vacheron Constantin, the Unia trade union said last week. Any rebound is now even further away, according to Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas.

“The weaker-than-expected October export performance places expectations of growth by year-end under increased pressure,” Solca wrote.

Swatch shares fell 3.5 percent to 285.8 Swiss francs at 10:14 a.m. in Zurich, while Richemont declined 2.4 percent to 64.3 francs.

  • Exports have fallen 11 percent in the first 10 months of the year
  • 13 of top 15 markets were negative in October
  • Shipments to Hong Kong, biggest market, fell 22 percent vs. 40 percent in September
  • Exports to U.S. declined 17 percent
  • U.K. posted 9 percent gain as weaker pound drove sales; fourth monthly increase
  • Average prices declining, federation says
  • China posted 2.8 percent gain, fourth month of recovery
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