The Swiss watch industry has struggled in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic Image Credit: Image courtesy: Watches & Wonders

Swiss watch exports to the UAE were down 27.2 percent after the first three quarters of 2020 when compared to the same period last year. Cumulative results for the Swiss watch industry after the first nine months of 2020 saw a decline of 28.3 percent, with the total value of exports equivalent to 11.4 billion Swiss Francs (approx. AED46.3 billion).

According to the most recent figures released by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), the UAE stands eight among the list of top Swiss watch export destinations. The country accounted for 501.3 million Swiss Francs (AED2.03 billion) worth of watch exports in the period between January and September 2020. China topped the list with a total value of 1.5 billion Swiss Francs (AED6.09 billion), up 10.6 percent from last year.

China hosted the Watches & Wonders event in Shanghai this September Image Credit: Image courtesy: Watches & Wonders

China continues to be the lone hope for a beleaguered Swiss watch industry that has struggled to cope with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The domestic market in China has benefited from the fact that wealthy Chinese have not travelled to Europe during the summer holiday season this year. The United States came in second on the charts registering 1.3 billion Swiss Francs (AED5.2 billion) worth of exports, down 22 percent from last year. Hong Kong came in third with exports worth 1.1 billion Swiss Francs (AED4.4 billion), down 44 percent from 2019.

The report also sheds light on the categories that have performed well. Watches in the mid-range “affordable luxury” category (between 500-3,000 Swiss Francs, AED2000-12,000) saw a marginal increase in value (+2.7 percent) in September. Watches priced at less than 500 Swiss Francs (AED2,000) recorded the sharpest declines in September, falling by 23.9 percent by value. Those priced over 3,000 Swiss Francs (AED12,000+) were down 13.5 percent in value compared to last September. The popularity of two-tone (gold and steel) watches seems to be dwindling too; exports fell sharply at 27.8 percent in September compared to the same period last year.