Swiss watch exports dropped by 81.3% in April to CHF 328.8 million as production and distribution ground to a halt.
The world’s largest market for Swiss watches, Hong Kong, saw imports contract by 83.2% while the United States was down 86%.
Exports to the United Kingdom all but stopped, with a decline of 96.4%.
Some manufacturers, notably those in the Swatch Group portfolio, have continued to manufacture in limited quantities throughout the pandemic, but most mothballed their factories from mid-March until late May, so recovery from the record lows in April will have slowly begun.
One way to glimpse into the future for US retailers, where the pandemic has laid waste to the industry, is to look at markets in the Far East.
Exports to China were down a more modest 16.1% in April and might already be back in positive territory for May. South Korea became the world’s fourth biggest export market for Swiss watchmakers in April because its imports were down 69%.