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High growth continuesSwiss watch exports in the first half of 2011

Following the clear recovery of 2010, watch exports continued to grow in the first half of 2011. Their value after six months stood at 8.7 billion francs, an increase of 19.3% compared to the first half of 2010. Last year’s level was therefore surpassed by more than 1.4 billion francs. This strong increase placed the sector above the benchmark result of 2008.

Watch exports were unflinching in the first half-year, with all months showing two-digit levels of growth. Indeed in April and May the level exceeded 30%. Figures for March and June were more moderate due to a very unfavourable base effect.

The watch industry continues to record excellent results, while other sectors experience difficulties. However the impact on exports of a strong franc is having a serious effect. Margins are being hit at all levels in the distribution chain and the prices of products sold abroad are rising. In this context, which is likely to continue, industry forecasts remain optimistic and point to sustained growth for the year 2011.


Wristwatches made up the lion’s shareof clock and watch industry exports. Their value amounted to 8.1 billion francs in the first half-year, an increase of 19.6% compared to January-June 2010. This growth was supported by a high volume of timepieces. In six months, Swiss manufacturers exported 14.0 million watches. This level represents an increase of 2.6 million units compared to 2010 (+22.5%). The main constituent materials of watches showed an upward trend. Gold watches played an important role in terms of growth by value, while in volume terms, steel and the category of other materials did most to underpin the general increase.

All price segments recorded two-digit growth, both in value and volume terms. The 200-500 franc category (export price) registered an increase in excess of 30%, following the example of 2010. Watches costing less than 200 francs accounted for more than 70% of exports in volume terms and recorded a high level of growth. Timepieces costing more than 3,000 francs showed a flat progression at a high level.

Other watchmaking products exported by Switzerlandalso recorded increases. Their overall value rose to 561.4 million francs (+15.9%). Exports of movements saw their value increase (+9.9%), while alarm clocks and other clocks lost ground (-46.4%).


All of the Swiss watch industry’s main markets recorded a positive trend in the first half-year. Asia (+24.3%) increased at a higher rate than Europe (+13.3%) or America (+16.6%) and clearly boosted the figures. It absorbed more than half (54.4%) of Swiss watch exports.

Hong Kong still represents a market of the highest order for Swiss watches. This market saw its value increase by 23.6%, rising to nearly double that of its nearest rival, the United States. The latter maintained a stable level of growth of almost 20% throughout the first half-year. China moved up one place in the ranking after recording the highest increase across the board. This country has shown a very strong dynamic over the past twelve months. Singapore, South Korea and Thailand also made strong showings between January and June. The Middle East also proved very attractive for Swiss watch manufacturers. Japan continued its gradual recovery and ended the half-year on a positive note despite the earthquake in March. In Europe, the positive assessment allowed for different interpretations according to markets. France continued to be influenced by products in transit and therefore recorded growth higher than the world average. Other markets on the Old Continent showed less marked changes.