Swiss watchmaking: when China wakes up…

After a record year in 2022, Swiss watch exports have surged again since the beginning of 2023. The good news is that the Chinese market has rebounded, joining the momentum elsewhere.


China is once again on board for Swiss watchmakers…


Good news rarely comes alone. The Swiss Watch Federation has just announced a new surge in exports during the first two months of 2023.   After an 8.6% increase in January, exports rose by a further 12.2% in February to 2.2 billion Swiss francs.


This good start to the 2023 financial year follows a record year in 2022. Virtually all markets were back on track. All except China, the second major destination for Swiss watchmakers after the United States, which was still affected by the covid restrictions in the last quarter!


The recovery of the Chinese market


Swiss watch exports to the Middle Kingdom recovered in 2023. After four months of decline, they rebounded by 8.2% in February. “The increase posted by Hong Kong (+22.2%) reinforces this finding while also suggesting a stabilization, or even a recovery, of the local market,” says the watchmaking federation, which analyzes this recovery as a “probable start” of the “recovery of the Chinese market”.


The Swiss group Richemont, owner of Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Piaget, had mentioned its melting sales in China in the last quarter of 2022, plunged by the return of Covid, when they soared elsewhere in the world. This forced the company to take restrictive measures (temporary closure of points of sale, reduction of opening hours due to the absence of contaminated staff).


All is well across the Atlantic and in Europe


The sales of Swatch Group (under the eponymous brand, Omega, Longines, Tissot …) had themselves fallen by 30% in the fourth quarter of 2022 and even half in December. Nick Hayek, the head of the Swatch Group, was hoping to boost growth in 2023 thanks to the return of Chinese tourists. His wish has been granted.


Elsewhere, the situation continues to be positive for Swiss watchmakers.  Exports to the United States – their largest market for the past two years – rose by a further 15.5% in February 2023.


In Europe, growth, although less strong, remains respectable (+6.1%). But some countries, particularly France (+20.3%), but also the United Kingdom (+12.2%) and Germany (+13.4%), have rediscovered their taste for Swiss timepieces with even greater vigor…


Read also > Chinese tourism recovery: what opportunities for luxury?


Featured photo: © Omega


Picture of Sophie Michentef
Sophie Michentef
Sophie Michentef has worked for more than 30 years in the professional press. For fifteen years, she managed the French and international editorial staff of the Journal du Textile. She now puts her press, textile, fashion, and luxury expertise at the service of newspapers, professional organizations, and companies.

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