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Swiss watch exports dipped after Apple Watch's debut

Swiss watch body mum on July's fall, but says strong Swiss franc made H1 a tough time

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Swiss watch exports, including those to Singapore, took a hit a month after the Apple Watch was shipped worldwide.

Singapore

SWISS watch exports, including those to Singapore, took a hit a month after the Apple Watch was shipped worldwide.

The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry's figures for July show that Swiss watch exports slipped 9.3 per cent to 1.9 billion Swiss francs (S$2.8 billion), charting the biggest fall since 2009.

For the first seven months of the year, shipments had been hit largely by a spike in the Swiss currency, slipping 1.2 per cent to CHF12.5 billion.

The Apple Watch was officially launched in late April, but was then confined to nine markets. It hit shops in the larger part of the world, including Singapore, only in June.

US market research firm NPD Group estimated that Apple sold at least 1.9 million watches that month.

Many of the Swiss luxury brands had not expected the Apple watch to take away their market share; the Swiss watch federation did not name the cause of July's downturn, but analysts are linking it to the debut of the Apple Watch.

Swiss shipments in July totalled 2.6 million watches, down 5.4 per cent from a year ago.

Those priced between CHF200 and CHF500 (between S$294 and S$735) were hardest hit. They fell 14.5 per cent. The pricier ones, those costing more than CHF500, dropped 8.0 per cent.

The Apple Watch costs between S$480 and S$23,800.

Continued economic uncertainty and other factors were also at play to dampen the demand for Swiss timepieces, especially in Asia. Imports into the region, which accounts for half of Swiss watch exports, tumbled by a fifth (21.4 per cent).

Shipments to Hong Kong, the biggest market, fell 28.7 per cent, and those to China, 39.6 per cent. Swiss watch exports to Singapore slipped 6.9 per cent in July, but were still up 5.5 per cent in the first seven months.

Exports to Hong Kong tumbled 20.8 per cent between January and July, and shipments to China dipped 4 per cent over the same period.

For Asia as a whole, Swiss watch exports were down 8.1 per cent. But exports to the US jumped 4.7 per cent; those to Europe rose 9.4 per cent.

The Swiss watch federation said the strong Swiss franc had "an adverse effect" on Swiss watch exports in the first half of the year. A number of suppliers went through a tough time, "characterised by very low visibility".

The trend is likely to continue for the rest of the year, said the federation.