Swiss matchmaking gone in March 2016 with a steep decline! The deterioration in the trend of Swiss watch exports observed since July 2015 gathered pace in March. With a decline of 16.1% compared to last year their value totalled only 1.5 billion francs, making these the lowest March figures since 2011. The scale of the downturn is also unusual, since we must go back to the crisis of 2009 to find rates of variation of this order.
All materials used for watch exteriors were affected by the decline. The fall in value was influenced in particular by precious-metal and steel timepieces. In terms of volumes, steel dragged the results down, as did the category of other materials, which covers all non-metallic products.
Watches costing between 500 and 3,000 francs (export price) showed a more moderate decline, albeit very significant. Their value contracted by 7.1% compared to March 2015. At the extremities of the price scale, timepieces costing less than 200 francs and those above 3,000 francs lost ground to the tune of 20%. The 200-500 francs category registered the least satisfactory result, falling sharply by 27.1% both in value and volume terms.
The main markets were particularly hard hit. Hong Kong recorded one of its steepest downturns, with -37.7%. The United States followed a similar trajectory in March (-32.9%), throwing the country’s poor performance into sharp relief. China was clearly negative (-13.7%), undermining the recovery which had begun to take hold at the end of last year. Germany was an exception and registered a level of growth (+2.2%) which confirms the steady improvement in its situation. Italy recorded a moderate decline (-3.2%), while Japan (-9.4%) failed to live up to the promise shown at the start of the year.