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Swiss Watch Exports Have Record Year as US Becomes Top Market

China and the US were the two regions in which demand was strongest in July.
Swiss watch exports had a record year amid booming demand in the US. (Shutterstock)

Swiss watch exports had a record year amid booming demand in the US, which overtook China to become the industry’s top market for the first time in more than a decade.

Shipments rose 31 percent to 22.3 billion francs ($24.1 billion) last year, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Thursday. The industry has recovered from a 22 percent decline in 2020, a drop that was on par with the 2009 financial crisis.

The industry could face challenges in 2022 amid further Covid-19 restrictions in key markets including Hong Kong and mainland China, where governments are pursuing so-called Covid-zero strategies. The trade group said it has “cautious optimism” for shipments this year as the industry faces a tough comparison.

The luxury goods industry has bounced back swiftly from the pandemic, helped by consumers accumulating savings during lockdowns and online sales. Strong demand in the US offset slower purchases in Europe, which suffered from a lack of high-spending tourists.

Exports to the US and China rose 55 percent and 24 percent respectively in 2021. Shipments to Hong Kong gained 26 percent.

Swatch Group AG said Tuesday 2021 earnings rebounded, while Richemont had its fastest holiday-season sales growth in at least a decade.

By Corinne Gretler and Andy Hoffman

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