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Swiss watch sales could tick to lowest level since 1984

Shawn M. Carter

Switzerland is on pace to export fewer watches than it has since 1984.

According to a Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry report, the country shipped just under 19 million watches in the 11 months through November, a 13 percent dip from last year. In terms of revenue, exports were down 3.5 percent since November 2018.

Watches with an export price below 3,000 francs ($3,052.39) dropped by double digits, per the report, both in value and the number of items: 11.5 percent and 17.6 percent, respectively.

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The sharp decline can, in part, be attributed to ongoing unrest in Hong Kong dissipating demand for luxury goods. Shipments to the city, specifically, were down a whopping 30 percent in November, marking the first time Hong Kong ranked behind mainland China.

The United Kingdom, France and the United Arab Emirates also saw declines.

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The rise of smartwatches, like the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch, have also challenged the demand for luxury watches. While many high-end watches can cost upward of $10,000 (with some, like from watchmakers Richard Mille and Patek Philippe, costing up to $140,000), smartwatches tend to hover under $1,000 and are equipped with many more features than time-telling.

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U.S. smartwatch sales were up 60 percent last year, market research firm The NPD Group reported in February, adding that sales totaled $5 billion, up 50 percent from last year.

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