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The Swiss watch industry reported its first downturn in exports since 2009 just as an international watch trade fair came to a close
The Swiss watch industry reported its first downturn in exports since 2009 just as an international watch trade fair came to a close

Stormy economic period for Swiss watches

As the first watch trade fair for 2016 draws to a close, new Swiss export figures have been released that indicate worrying times for the industry.

The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry has released its 2015 export report, which reflects unsettling market conditions. The Swiss industry recorded its first downturn since 2009 – the total value of watch exports was CHF21.5 billion (AU$29.7 b), a decline of 3.3 per cent compared to 2014.

Exports deteriorated steadily during 2015, falling from a 3.2 per cent increase in the first quarter to a 7.3 per cent decrease in the fourth quarter. The second quarter dropped 6.8 per cent – well short of its 2014 level – while the first half-year as a whole remained slightly positive with a 0.5 per cent lift.

A thunderbolt emerged from these darkening economic clouds when the Swiss National Bank thumped the markets by scrapping its three-year-old peg of CHF1.20 (AU$1.66) per euro in mid-January 2015.

Symptomatic of the overall Swiss watch industry, the watch brands that fall under the portfolio of luxury goods conglomerate Richemont recorded a small decline in sales of 4 per cent in the past six months.

However, Richemont’s other businesses – including jewellery brands – performed strongly with total operating profit for the group up 6 per cent. Despite an overall solid performance, investors gave the company a haircut of 25 per cent to the share price in the last three months.

Notwithstanding these recent movements, history records that despite the flaky nerves of Richemont shareholders, the tough psychometric mindset of the Swiss watch industry will endure and see the tough period through.

Swiss forge ahead

This was seemingly the attitude at the 2016 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), colloquially known as the Geneva Salon, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 18 to 22 January.

The 2016 SIHH showcased an outstanding exposition steeped in class and quality – and for the non-techo, there was glitz and bling as well.

In addition to the 15 established exhibitors, the event also welcomed nine independent watchmakers and ‘créateurs’ that exhibited in the new Carré des Horlogers area.

Ever-more complex tourbillons, chronographs, dive watches, extra-thin watches and sumptuously decorated pieces took technical mastery, craftsmanship and pure tech and bling to dizzying heights.

The SIHH is primarily a Richemont group luxuries event and amongst its exhibitors are some of the most prestigious names in the luxury industry, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC Schaffhausen, Greubel Forsey and Montblanc.

From the most simple to the most complicated, new, in-house creations confirmed the robust health of a centuries-old industry that feeds on tradition yet never misses the highest technical refinements of exquisite mechanical timekeeping.

This has been the case for many years and time will tell as to whether the dark clouds gathering around ‘Horology Heaven’ will presage a stormy spell.

Established in 1991, the SIHH is this elite industry's foremost gathering and remains a private, invitation-only event reserved for retailers, suppliers and media.

Next year’s SIHH will take place from 16 to 20 January 2017 at the Palexpo convention centre in Geneva.

* Martin Foster reviewed SIHH courtesy of Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, organiser of the event.

 

SIHH 2016

Roger Dubuis
Roger Dubuis
Greubel Forsey
Greubel Forsey
Urwerk
Urwerk
Hautlence
Hautlence
The official authorities of Geneva with the leaders and CEOs of several major watch industry bodies and exhibiting brands at SIHH 2016
The official authorities of Geneva with the leaders and CEOs of several major watch industry bodies and exhibiting brands at SIHH 2016





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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Martin Foster

Martin Foster is a freelance journalist and Jeweller’s resident watch ‘guru’. Based in Sydney, Martin attends major international exhibitions covering the watch and timepieces categories.









Monday, 20 August, 2018 03:19am
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