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Swiss watch exports fell sharply in March, decreasing by 21.9% to 1.4 billion francs. Although very marked,the decline was nonetheless lower than the drop in sales in some of the main markets. A deterioration is expected in April. The fall in volumes (-43.1%) is more representative – on average –of the real state of the watch market.

Steel watches saw one of the steepest declines in value, with a significant impact on the overall result, along with watches made from precious metals. Volumes were also affected by the negative performance of steel watches, which fell by almost half. The number of watches exportedfell by almost 700,000 in March, producing an unprecedented monthly figure of 900,000 units.

While watches priced at over 3,000 francs (export price) held up slightly better, all price segments saw sharp falls in both value and the number of watches.Most markets declined significantly in March, with Italy, for example, down -57.6%. Contrary to all expectations, however, a few leading markets saw a significant increase and even an acceleration of their growth to date. The United States (+20.9%) was themost striking example. Watches priced at over 3,000 francs grew strongly there, in a market that has been very dynamic since the beginning of the year, probably anticipating future shipping difficulties. China (+10.5%) also posted solid growth afterfalling by half in February, probably in anticipation of the end of the crisis and going hand-in-hand with an increase in domestic consumption. Although very poor, the result for Hong Kong (-41.3%) was still far from the actual fall in sell-out and partly reflects the less challenging situation of re-export markets in the region.

Source: http://www.fhs.swiss/file/59/comm_200303_a.pdf
 

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Super interesting FBPB, and am wondering how everything
will play out for the rest of the year. Everything seems to be
so uncertain. It's so difficult seeing what the repercussions
will be, or if they will be lasting with everything that is going
on. Seems like the watch industry in general is a good example,
or microcosm of what's going on in the world. It's all whether
things will go back to normal, or some new normal with a lot
of things.

Thanks very much for finding this for us !
 

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Discussion Starter #3
My pleasure. It's a passion for me, so I like to follow the business side as well.

On a side note, the gloom and doom "experts" here are saying that the recession in Switzerland will be as bad as back in 1975. I have my doubts, people here have had enough and are already chomping at the bit to go out and do things.

On Monday, the regular shops here will be able to open, but still have to respect the guidelines set out by the government to prevent the spread (2m between people, max number of people in a shop based on the square meters of the shop). Restaurants and bars will remain closed, and schools will only be allowed to open for the youngest starting in May.

On another side note, as you may already know that most Swiss watch factories are staffed by a significant percentage of French workers. Currently there is no plan to lessen the restrictions on the borders, meaning the cross border workers will likely still have to spend a very long time to come across the border, if they are allowed. I know Zenith, Rolex, IWC, et al. originally closed their factories for 10 or more days back in mid-March, but I have not seen any new info since then. I will post as I come across it.
 

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My pleasure. It's a passion for me, so I like to follow the business side as well.

On a side note, the gloom and doom "experts" here are saying that the recession in Switzerland will be as bad as back in 1975. I have my doubts, people here have had enough and are already chomping at the bit to go out and do things.

On Monday, the regular shops here will be able to open, but still have to respect the guidelines set out by the government to prevent the spread (2m between people, max number of people in a shop based on the square meters of the shop). Restaurants and bars will remain closed, and schools will only be allowed to open for the youngest starting in May.

On another side note, as you may already know that most Swiss watch factories are staffed by a significant percentage of French workers. Currently there is no plan to lessen the restrictions on the borders, meaning the cross border workers will likely still have to spend a very long time to come across the border, if they are allowed. I know Zenith, Rolex, IWC, et al. originally closed their factories for 10 or more days back in mid-March, but I have not seen any new info since then. I will post as I come across it.
Well thank you very very much for filling us in on things ! 🙂
Actually don't know enough about the business side of the
hobby to tell you the truth. So hearing all of what you are
saying above is incredibly interesting. Also just love hearing
how similar everyone is in combating the Coronavirus. I
hope we are as eager as you guys in wanting to go out,
and do things, and get things back to normal.

Also am hopeful that the scars from this aren't everlasting,
or something that really dampens the spirit of everyone
for the foreseeable future. I mean I always try to be positive,
but can't believe what has happened in such a short amount
of time. Honestly think that might be one of the scariest parts
of all of this.

Yes, please post any new news. Or anything for that matter
on how all of you are doing. Want to wish everyone there
well, and hope we can wake from this nightmare very very
soon. Stay safe, healthy, and as happy as possible.

Thanks again !
 

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On another side note, as you may already know that most Swiss watch factories are staffed by a significant percentage of French workers. Currently there is no plan to lessen the restrictions on the borders, meaning the cross border workers will likely still have to spend a very long time to come across the border, if they are allowed. I know Zenith, Rolex, IWC, et al. originally closed their factories for 10 or more days back in mid-March, but I have not seen any new info since then. I will post as I come across it.
So, do they live in neighbouring towns and cross to work each day or how does it work?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So, do they live in neighbouring towns and cross to work each day or how does it work?
Yes, there are quite a few major towns and even some small cities just across the border. The traffic tailbacks each morning coming from France into Switzerland and in the evening going the other way can be quite long, especially on a Friday.

For example, you can see here how close Zenith in Le Locle is to the border (about 750 meters). La Chaux de Fonds is only another 10km past Le Locle

129505



As well as the Vallée de Joux, home of Jaeger Le Coultre, Breguet, and so many more (about 4km):

129506



As well as Biel/Bienne (home of Rolex's movement factory, as well as Omega)
129507



And, of course, Rolex in Geneva:

129508


Patek Philippe is even closer:
129509
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Just so no one gets the wrong idea, I'm not saying that the French workers do bad work, quite the contrary. Just that the image built up of a single Swiss "elf" toiling away to make a "Swiss Made" watch is far from the reality.

Even Moser & Cie and Voutilainnen etc use CNC machines to manufacture their watches, though not to do so today is likely to bankrupt you or make it so you can only deliver a very few watches each year.




For the "Swiss Elf" made watch, you need to go to someone like Philippe Dufour:

 

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Yes, there are quite a few major towns and even some small cities just across the border. The traffic tailbacks each morning coming from France into Switzerland and in the evening going the other way can be quite long, especially on a Friday...
I certainly learnt something new.
Thanks for the effort of providing that info
 
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