The ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong has taken a toll on the luxury watch industry. Swiss watch exports to Hong Kong, the biggest market for luxury Swiss timepieces, has dropped by 12.7 percent in August compared to the same month in 2018, according the latest statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
Hong Kong imported CHF 166.4 million ($168.6 million) worth of Swiss watches in August this year as opposed to CHF190.6 million ($193.1 million) in the same period last year. However, Hong Kong remains the Swiss industry’s biggest market and accounted for CHF1,873.8 million ($1,898.7 million) in the first eight months of the year. However this figure is 6.4 per cent down from where it was in August 2018 and the downward trend has persisted for a few months over the summer. Swiss exports to Hong Kong were down 26.8 percent in June and July saw a 1.3 percent decline.
Pro-democracy protests have entered the 16th week now and the city has seen its luxury trade take a real beating as protestors and law enforcement agencies battle it out on the streets. Closer to home, after the first eight months of the year, the UAE has dropped from the top 10 Swiss watch importers list. Though it contributed CHF603.2 million ($611.2 million) this year up to August, up 2.1 percent from 2018; UAE lost its spot to South Korea. The Far Eastern state contributed CHF615.5 million ($623.6 million) to the Swiss industry’s coffers, up 2.8 percent from last year.
The UAE has been a constant fixture at the top of the table for a while now so it remains to be seen if these figures change in the coming months. Overall, the Swiss industry’s exports up to August stood at CHF14.1 billion ($14.2 billion) up 1.9 percent from last year thanks to stellar contributions from Japan (up 23.6 percent), the UK (up 18 percent) and China (up 14 percent).