Swiss Watch Federation Says UK Demand Was 21% Higher in 2020

As the pandemic eased throughout 2020 watch sales began to recover in the summer and were boosted again as retailers and manufacturers upped their online game last year.

The latest stats from the Swiss watch makers Federation for November are interesting reading, because they show how the strong push towards online retailing helped the big prestige brands end the year on a positive note. Apart from China, demand from the UK was also very strong, which is surprising given the supposed economic hardship caused by Covid. Maybe those Bounceback loans have been invested in Rolexes and new company Mercs?

Here’s some info from the press office;

The decline in Swiss watch exports has gradually slowed over the last few months. They almost reached equilibrium during November, with a slight fall of 3.2%, compared with November 2019. This performance can be mainly explained by China’s return to strength, following a less dynamic October. Over 11 months, Switzerland has seen a 23.5% decline in its watch exports.

Bi-metal watches stood out in November, with positive trends in both value and the number of items. Export turnover for steel watches remained steady, while products made from precious metals declined significantly. Volumes were affected by a sharp decline in the Other materials and Other metals categories, as well as by the contraction in steel watches. Watches priced at less than 200 francs (export price) saw a marked decline, particularly in the number of items.

Performance by value in the 200-500 francs range was average, with watches priced at over 3,000 francs in a similar position. The latter saw an increase in the number of items compared with 2019, for the first time since February. The 500-3,000 francs range remained at the same level as a year ago.

As in the period from June to September, the less steep decline at the global level in November was mainly due to the very strong performance posted by China (+69.5%), following a temporary lull in October (though still with +15.1% growth). Over a third of the main direct markets for watch exports also saw an upswing, however, helping to soften the downward trend to some extent. Among them, the United Kingdom (+21.8%), Taiwan (+18.5%) and Russia (+36.3%) were notable for steady growth. Conversely, other key markets continued to see more or less sharp declines, including the United States (-2.8%), Hong Kong (-14.0% in spite of a highly favourable base effect), Germany (-1.1%), Singapore (-31.9%), the United Arab Emirates (-3.7%), Italy (-27.8%) and France (-29.0%).

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