Figures recently released by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) reveal that in 2012 Swiss watch exports grew to €17 billion, which is an increase of almost 11% when compared to the previous year.
In fact, over the past three years the Swiss watch industry has continued to revel in unprecedented levels of growth, particularly in China, where large numbers of luxury goods, including watches, are being purchased by predominantly male clientele from the country’s booming middle class. In addition, sales of luxury watches were further boosted due to the celebrations for Chinese new year which occurred in February.
However, at a time when we’re often told that the balance of economic power throughout the world is moving away from the economies of the West in favour of emerging markets, sales of Swiss made watches are nearly totally dominated by what is generally considered as the more mature markets, with the exceptions of Hong Kong and China.
Within countries such as India, Russia, Brazil and Malaysia, it seems that increased levels of sales of Swiss timepieces in many of these emerging economies are yet to materialise. Whilst there are a number of possible economic reasons for this, it remains apparent that the emerging markets still offer the Swiss watch industry a tremendous amount of untapped potential.
If, as is predicted by the OECD, China will be the world’s leading economic power by 2016, overtaking the United States, with significant levels of growth also predicted in developing markets such as India, Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia and South Africa, the countries where Swiss watch sales are most prevalent could be completely different in thirty or forty years time to what it is today.
As China, Hong Kong and Taiwan lead the way currently, expect many of the aforementioned developing countries to be key destinations for Swiss watch exports in the years to come, especially as countries such as the UK, Spain and South Korea will in all likelihood no longer make it into the top 20 countries for which Swiss watches are exported.
Watch this space. You can bet all the leading Swiss watch brands will be.
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