Swiss watch exports to the United States topped CHF 2.2 billion in 2018, the highest total since 2015.
The figures, from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, show the USA grew faster than almost every Western market, beating growth rates in every major country in Europe apart from France.
The country remains Switzerland’s second most important export market. Hong Kong remains number one, with exports to the Chinese principality of just over CHF 3 billion in 2018.
2019 started strongly for the United States with imports of Swiss watches rising 9.1%, but a 7% drop in imports in February sees the first two months combined roughly flat on the same period last year.
Worldwide, Swiss watch exports for watches priced at less than CHF 200 recorded a significant decline of around -15% in February; the CHF 200-500 range remained stagnant, while the CHF 500 to CHF 3,000 segment fell for the fifth time in six months.
Timepieces priced at over CHF 3,000 continued to show strong growth, a trend that has now been almost uninterrupted for nearly two years.
The trend in the principal markets varied widely in February. Hong Kong (-3.8%) and the United States (-6.6%) declined, mainly because of a particularly unfavourable base effect.
After falling for two months, China (+15.1%) bounced back strongly. The extraordinary growth in the United Kingdom (+58.3%) accounted for 80% of the increase worldwide and is explained by stockpiling ahead of Brexit. Japan (+19.4%) saw a strong increase for the second month in a row while Singapore (+18.6%) posted an unprecedented level of growth for February.