Swiss watch exports enjoy another record year in 2023

FILE: Watches are seen in water at the booth of Swiss watch manufacturer IWC on the opening day of during the luxury watch fair 'Watches and Wonders Geneva', on 27 March 2023 in Geneva.
FILE: Watches are seen in water at the booth of Swiss watch manufacturer IWC on the opening day of during the luxury watch fair 'Watches and Wonders Geneva', on 27 March 2023 in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Swiss watch exports set a record for the third year running in 2023, rising 7.6 percent to 26.7 billion Swiss francs ($31 billion), an industry group said on Tuesday. 

Exports were boosted by sales in their largest market, the United States, where they rose 35.1 percent for the full year, the watchmakers' federation said.

On the other hand, exports to China fell 6.9 percent even though there was a slight bounce at the end of the year. 

"Swiss watchmaking benefitted from steady demand in the luxury goods market," the federation said. 

It warned, however:"2024 looks calmer for both exports and the number of people employed in the sector, with results expected to remain high or only increase slightly." 

In 2023, exports also rose strongly to Hong Kong (up 15.2 percent), Japan (up 26.8 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (up 11.8 percent). 

Besides China, there were also declines in the UK (down 12.1 percent), Singapore (down 7.4 percent), Germany (down 2.3 percent) and South Korea (down 3.0 percent).

Swiss watch exports rapidly rebounded after the Covid-19 pandemic, setting records in 2021 and 2022.

Sales were lifted by "revenge spending" -- with consumers splashing built-up cash on luxury products as confinements eased.

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© Agence France-Presse

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