2021 Was a Boom Year For Swiss Watch Industry

The Swiss watch manufacturers Federation recently issued an update on December 2021 export stats, which neatly wraps up a record year in terms of revenue.

2021 ended on a high for Swiss watch exports, confirming the strong results seen in November (+8.7%) with growth of 8.5% in December, compared with the reference year of 2019. The return to pre-crisis levels during September and positive performance in the fourth quarter produced the best-ever annual results for the sector, at 22.3 billion francs, 2.7% higher than in 2019 and a 0.2% improvement over the 2014 record.

All groups of materials supported the December results, which were driven by watches made from precious metals and steel, in particular. Volumes, however, were significantly lower than in 2019,
with 230,000 fewer items exported.

The fall in volume for the year as a whole was 4.9 million items (-23.8% compared with 2019), with a total of 15.7 million watches exported. So the Swiss are making fewer watches, but charging much more for them – good marketing strategy.


The USA  and China are the two biggest markets, with Hong Kong listed in third place, although HK is part of China of course.

Next we have Singapore and the United Kingdom, with Japan close behind.

One thing worth noting is that watches priced at less than 500 francs (export price) saw their export value fall by around 26% compared with December 2019. So fewer people actually want those bargain priced Tissots it seems.

Watches priced at over 3,000 francs again saw the strongest
growth, notably increasing by +14.8% in value. The United States (+44.2% compared with 2019) was the leading market last month as it was throughout the year, and recorded one of the highest increases in December.

Growth in China (+9.1%) slowed, mainly due to a negative base effect, but remained strong. The recovery in Hong Kong (-15.5%) continued very timidly, however watch exports there again fell significantly for the third year running. Singapore (+6.5%), the United Kingdom (+13.5%) and the United Arab Emirates (+8.2%) all grew, while Japan (-2.8%), Germany (-1.9%), France (-13.5%), Italy (-8.9%) and South Korea (-0,3%) saw their results fall, indicating a level of ongoing instability in the market.

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