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Swiss Watch Exports Continue to Rise Amid a Spike in Hong Kong Orders

The unprecedented demand of the last few years continues, though there are some signs of a slowdown.

Watch prices on the secondary market have fallen Jack Taylor/Getty Images

It continues to be a very good time to be a Swiss watchmaker.

The country’s watch industry saw exports rise sharply in March, according to Bloomberg. The jump, which continues a trend that started early in the pandemic, can be attributed partially to the lessening of Covid restrictions in Hong Kong.

A new report released by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry on Tuesday showed that exports climbed by 13.8 percent last month to a total value of 2.4 billion CHF (about $2.7 billion). Export volume also rose by 300,000 watches to a total of more than 1.5 million units. The last figure represents a 23.9 percent jump compared to the same month last year.

Exports to the six main markets cited by the trade group—the US, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Japan and the UK—all rose in March, but nowhere more than the former British colony. Shipments to the global financial hub increased by nearly 61.9 percent, according to the report. The Chinese territory, which the federation says is currently the second most valuable region for Swiss watches, dropped its mask mandate last month and is currently attempting to revive its economy after three years of Covid restrictions.

There may be a strong appetite for high-priced timepieces in Hong Kong, China (which saw a 14 percent increase in shipments) and Singapore (19 percent), but there are signs that things are cooling down in the other major markets cited in the report. Exports to the most valuable region, the US, increased by only 7.8 percent, which is just shy of half of February’s 16 percent increase. Japan (1.5 percent) and the UK (7.5 percent) also underperformed to varying degrees.

As good as things have been for Swiss watchmakers over the last few years, industry insiders are well aware that the unprecedented demand of the last few years can’t continue forever. Earlier month, Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern told Bloomberg he’s starting to see signs of a slight slowdown. Despite this, 2023 continues to have all the signs of a very good year for those in the watch business.

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