Swiss Watch Exports Fall

Shipments of Swiss watches fell in August and the Apple Watch is being cited as one factor in the decline. The first drop in exports in six years is anticipated with the demand for low-end watches taking the biggest hit.
On Tuesday the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported on its website that shipments had declined 1.6% for the month of August, down to $1.5 billion USD. Much of that drop was due to dwindling demand for watches selling for less than $200, which fell 13%, while pieces priced from $200 to $500 dropped an alarming 24%.
Not so coincidentally, prices for the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport start at $350 and go up to about $1,000. It’s tempting to presume that many potential buyers of Swiss watches in that price range decided to purchase an Apple Watch instead.
The Apple Watch is one factor driving the decline but not the only one. Jon Cox, an analyst at the Zurich firm of Kepler Cheuvreux told Bloomberg, “I presume that the Apple Watch would put pressure on the low- and mid-tier segment of the Swiss watch market.” He added. “Stock market volatility isn’t helping in China.” Shipments to China experienced a decline of 39% while those to Hong Kong fell 18% and shipments to Singapore dropped 11%.
The outlook for Swiss watches isn’t entirely gloomy since high-end models carrying price tags of over $3,000 actually gained 1.7% in value for August. It looks like the $10,000-plus Apple Watch Edition isn’t having much of an effect on the market for luxury watches from brands like Rolex.
Some Swiss watchmakers have been anticipating the Apple Watch taking a bite out of their bottom line and are developing smartwatches of their own like the model from TAG Heuer due out in November.
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