The global recession has impacted the once recession-proof Swiss luxury watch business, according to reports from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, the Richemont Group (Cartier’s parent), and the prestigious Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie luxury watch fair in Geneva, Switzerland.
"After several record-breaking years, Swiss watch exports in November—traditionally their best month—declined (by 15.3 percent in value, compared to November 2007) for the first time in almost four years. While all price segments dropped, the fall was greatest (down 30 percent) for watches between about $435 and $2,600 (export prices)."
The declines “clearly illustrates the curb on growth suffered by the industry as a result of the world economic climate,” an FH report said. Watch exports, about 10 percent of all Swiss exports, are expected to be less this year than in 2008.
The 18th SIHH (Jan. 19 -23) expects 15 percent fewer visitors—especially from the United States and Japan—than in 2008, when 17,000 from prestigious retailers worldwide attended the invitation-only event. Some show officials and attendees blame the global economic climate and what one Swiss newspaper calls “this challenging [watch] industry environment.”
Some also suggest holding the SIHH—usually in March/April to coincide with the international Basel, Switzerland, watch fair—in mid-January, due to a scheduling conflict at Geneva’s convention center, is also a factor.
In addition, SIHH’s exhibitors canceled their traditional evening events, normally highlights of the week, which celebrate the luxury watch business, some “to save money,” said a show spokesperson.
Info via JCK-Jewelers Circular Keystone, 1/21/2009.