Stable watch exports remain at record levels

Swiss watch exports barely budged in March compared to the same month a year earlier but remained at “very high” levels, according to figures released on Tuesday.

Stable watch exports remain at record levels
Photo: Mike Chapman

Exports were valued at 1.7 billion francs ($1.8 billion), up just 0.6 percent from a year earlier, following a fall in February, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industy (FH) said in a monthly report.

“While growth has clearly slowed compared to 2012, the levels attained remain very high, with the first quarter closing at 4.7 billion francs, an increase of 2.4 percent,” the report said.

The actual number of timepieces sold fell in March by 160,000 to 2.1 million units, FH said.

Watches selling for less than 3,000 francs (export price) fell by 6.4 percent in value.

But this was offset by a robust increase in luxury watches (those with an export price of more than 3,000 francs), which rose 7.2 percent in value, FH said.

Last year, the Swiss watch industry set an all-time record for exports of more than 21 billion francs. 

The watch industry’s Q1 figures were matched by generally encouraging numbers for overall Swiss exports issued on Tuesday by the federal customs administration (FCA).

Swiss exports rose 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013, while imports gained 2.6 percent over the the first three months of 2012, the FCA said.

These figures were “corrected” to reflect the fact there were three fewer working days for the period this year than in 2012.

The actual figures showed a 0.7 percent drop in exports to 49.8 billion francs, while imports dropped 1.8 percent to 43.9 billion francs.

On the plus side, exports of food products, drinks and tobacco rose 11 percent, the FCA said.

Trade with the European Union continued to suffer, with 15,900 fewer motor vehicles imported in the quarter. 

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Swiss weapons exports up 38 percent despite pandemic

Switzerland’s weapons exports have seen a 38 percent increase in 2020, according to official government figures.

Swiss weapons exports up 38 percent despite pandemic
Swiss weapons exports are on track for their highest year on record. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland exported CHF690 worth of weapons over the first nine months of 2020. That’s a 38 percent increase on the CHF500 million sold over the corresponding period in 2019. 

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) published the figures on Tuesday

The biggest customers for Swiss weaponry were Denmark, Indonesia and Germany. 

In total, 76 countries bought Swiss weapons during the period. 

According to current figures, weapons exports are on track to be the highest in Swiss history – beating the record of CHF893 million set in 2011. 

‘Death business is flourishing’ 

The news has been heavily criticised by a number of non-government organisations critical of weapons being sold to countries at war or who may use them against their own citizens. 

The Organisation for Switzerland without an Army (GSOA) and Terre des Hommes have been critical of the figures, particularly as the industry has called for a decrease in regulation in recent years. 

GSOA wrote in a statement “the death business is flourishing”. 

Saudi Arabia – currently involved in a conflict in Yemen – appear on the list, along with Brazil. Weapons opponents are concerned the Swiss exports could be used in the country’s slums, Der Bund reports