The Swiss watchmaking industry suffered its sharpest contraction of the year in October, despite the UK delivering another stellar performance with imports up 9% over the same month in 2015.
The United Kingdom retains its position as the fourth largest market in the world for Swiss watches, overtaking Japan for the first time this year.
The Chinese mainland notched its first monthly rise, with imports up 2.8%, making it the world’s third largest market, but Hong Kong continued to hemorrhage business, with imports down 21.5% in October.
For the year to date, the UK is the only country in the top 10 to have grown this year (up 4.5%). It is on course to finish the year as the fifth largest market in the world for Swiss watches, ahead of Germany, France and Italy for the first time in years.
Analysis of the state of the world market by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reveals despair that an anticipated recovery in the fourth quarter of 2016 was showing no signs of materialising. “A recovery had been expected in the fourth quarter, but watch industry exports in fact reported their steepest fall of the year in October. Their value was 16.4% lower against October 2015 at CHF 1.7 billion. The variation over ten months now stands at -11%,” it said in its monthly report.
The UK is riding a wave of luxury watch sales, with sales of timepieces priced at over £1000 rising by 53% in October, according to retail analyst GfK.
But the global picture is more bleak. The value of watches priced at over CHF 3000 (£2400) fell by 16.2%, while the volume fell by 10.2%, illustrating the reduction in the average selling price over the past six months.
The Federation singled out the UK for bucking the global trend and posting a substantial rise both in October and for the year to date. “The United Kingdom was once again the most dynamic market, still benefiting from the lower parity of the pound sterling following the Brexit referendum,” the report stated.