In 2010, Hong Kong overtook the United States to become the largest export market in the world for Swiss watchmakers, a title it has held ever since, until now.
A massive year-on-year spike of almost 15% in exports to the US in August has put us top of the global tree.
August is traditionally a slow month for exports, and a total value of watches worth CHF 177 million sold to the United States in the month is the second lowest total this year.
But the country is showing sustained strength this year, with exports rising by 8% for the year to date. This compares to a slump of 6.4% for Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy protests have hit Hong Kong retailers, and there is evidence that some of the sales that would normally take place in the city state are displacing to China, Japan and Singapore, which are all experiencing strong growth this year.
You don’t have to spend too much time in Geneva before you find watch brand executives moaning about tough market conditions but, globally, exports of Swiss watches are up slightly this year by almost 2%.
The luxury end of the market continues to drive growth, with exports of watches priced at over CHF 3000 up 6.3% by value and 7.4% by volume (suggesting a slight softening in the average transaction price per unit).
All price points below CHF 3000 declined, with the least expensive watches, priced at under CHF 200 dropping by 13.3% in August.