RAPAPORT… The Swiss watch industry remained cautious at
the start of the Baselworld show this week as data indicated a continued
slowdown in the timepiece trade.
The exhibition opened in Basel on Thursday, with the Federation of the Swiss
Watch Industry reporting that the nation’s watch exports had fallen 10 percent
to $1.5 billion (CHF 1.49 billion) in February.
Global political and economic challenges and the strength of the Swiss franc
have hurt the country’s watch trade, François Thiébaud, head of the Tissot
brand and president of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, explained Wednesday
ahead of the fair.
But the market will go through a period of consolidation that will benefit the
entire watch sector, predicted Eric Bertrand, president of the Baselworld
Downturns are “an opportunity for those who have done their job properly in
recent years and who have a solid foundation on the market,” Bertrand argued.
“When unfavorable winds blow, then cold
reality strikes,” he said. “This recovery will enable the best-armed players to
gain market share and be more successful than ever before.”
The February data showed a negative performance across all categories.
Shipments of precious-metal watches slid 17 percent, while steel-timepiece
orders slipped 6 percent and shipments of watches containing both gold and
steel decreased 4.9 percent.
By price category, exports of wristwatches valued above $3,024 (CHF 3,000) fell
12 percent. Those in the $504 (CHD 500)-to-$3,024 range declined 3.1 percent,
with shipments of pieces costing between $202 (CHF 200) and $504 dropping 7
percent. Wristwatches priced at less than $202 went down 22 percent.
Exports to Hong Kong fell 12 percent to $188.3 million (CHF 186.8 million),
while shipments to the U.S. plummeted 26 percent to $148.8 million (CHF 147.6
million) following two months of positive figures.
Baselworld show runs from March 23 to 30.