Blame the Apple Watch: Swiss watchmakers see exports decline in October

apple watch problems version 1461311033 wrist7 1500x1000
It was Swiss watchmaking legend Jean-Claude Biver who said in 2014 that the Apple Watch (and smartwatches more broadly) “wouldn’t create another crisis for the Swiss watch industry.” It now appears that Mr. Biver may have spoken too soon. According to a Swiss customs office statement released Thursday, October saw the biggest decline in the export of Swiss timepieces in six years: a 7.6 percent dip in global shipments, including a 12 percent decline in shipments to the U.S. alone, and a drop in total revenue of 2 billion Swiss francs ($2 billion).

It’s the continuation of a trend that began earlier this year. In August, exports fell 9.3 percent year-over-year — then the steepest monthly decline since November 2009. September witnessed a 9.9 percent drop in Swiss luxury wristwear shipments, bookending a Q3 that saw sales decline 8.5 percent. Since January, Swiss watch exports have slid 3.2 percent overall.

These sustained, precipitous drops are especially dramatic in context. In October 2014, Swiss watch exports made one of the highest year-on-year gains of the year — 5.2 percent. And 2014 was a record year for the Swiss watch industry overall, generating $23.9 billion in sales.

The natural inclination is to blame smartwatches, a market segment which is expected to reach $32.9 billion by 2020, but they’re far from the biggest factor. Analysts point to weak demand in Asian nations, especially Hong Kong, which saw its sales share of Swiss wristwear tumble 10 percent in October from the same period a year ago. Other overseas markets haven’t fared much better — in August, sales to China were 40 percent of total sales, down from 49 percent in July 2014, and in the same month the South Korea market shrank to 29 percent.

Still, analysts say the role of smartwatches in recent declines can’t be ignored. “Traditional watch makers are coming under pressure,” Ben Woods, Chief of Research at CCS Insights, told Tech Radar in October. “It would be naïve to think the Apple Watch has not impacted the traditional market in some form.”

The heirloom quality of high-end watches — traditions of passing watches down one generation to the next — has helped to shield luxury brands from the growth of wearable tech, but mid- and low-end brands haven’t been so lucky. Fossil projected a Q4 sales decline in this segment of as much as 16 percent.

That’s led some watchmakers like Swiss company Swatch to embrace digital with open arms. The company beat Apple to the mobile watch payments punch with a wearable it debuted in October (Apply Pay has yet to roll out in broadly in China).

But all the same, high-end brands aren’t hedging their bets. Tag Heuer and Movado introduced luxury smartwatches earlier this month. In February, a coalition of Swiss watchmakers including Frederique Constant, Mondaine, and Alpina announced a partnership with motion-tracking company Fullpower to create a unified smartwatch platform, MotionX.

Deals

Best Labor Day sales: Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot drop early deals

Labor Day 2019 lands on Monday, September 2 this year. We've gathered all of the information you need to prepare yourself for the many sales to come, from REI to Walmart and everything in between.
Cars

Mercedes downsizes its plug-in hybrid tech with the new A250e sedan, hatchback

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is getting a plug-in hybrid variant. Dubbed the A250e, the compact plug-in is set to go on sale in Europe in both sedan and hatchback forms. Mercedes hasn't confirmed U.S. sales plans.
Deals

Grab the terrific Samsung Galaxy A50 phone for $126 less on Amazon

Samsung is mostly known for its premium Galaxy S and Note Series phones, but it also manufactures cheaper phones through the A-Series. An example is the Samsung Galaxy A50 which not only looks great but also boasts a lot of features.
Cars

Limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS returns for 2020, WRX and STI get minor tweaks

Subaru performance cars remain mostly unchanged for the 2020 model year. The big news is the return of the limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS sports car, with production capped at 300 units.
Mobile

Best tablets for small businesses

Tablets and convertible laptops are increasingly popular with small companies. The ability to carry a lightweight tablet to and from the office and hook it up to a keyboard or even a monitor, gives entrepreneurs the flexibility they seek.
Mobile

Best mobile credit card readers for small businesses

Small businesses that market directly to customers benefit from having a point of sale system ready for clients who don't carry cash. Card readers should support swipe, the newer chip standard, and various smartphone-based wallets.
Small Business

PushSend is what all small businesses need for their marketing campaigns

Want to grow your small business through the use of great marketing tools? PushSend is an all-in-one package that includes email campaigns, landing pages, lead gen forms, and much more.
Social Media

The best social media management tools for small businesses

Social media is a great way to spread the word about your business, connect with customers and network. Here are the best social media management tools for small businesses to help you schedule posts, track engagement, and much more.
Deals

Amazon drops Pre-Prime Day discount on Brother black and white office printer

There are a lot of high-speed printers out in the market. A good option would be Brother's HL-L5100DN. This monochrome printer is normally sold for $200, but Amazon has cut 16% off the price, bringing its cost down to $168.
Computing

The best desktop PCs for small businesses in 2019

Whether you need a powerful PC to work done or an elegant system for your customer-facing operation, we've selected some of the best desktops for your small business. From $500 to $5,000, these PCs will help you stay productive.
Smart Home

Arlo Pro vs. Pro 2 vs. Ultra: Which should you buy?

Looking for the best security cam for your home or business? We're comparing the Arlo Pro vs. Pro 2 vs. Ultra to see which Arlo cam has the best features, the best deals, and which could work right for you.
Small Business

Norton vs. McAfee: Which Antivirus software is best for your small business?

Effective antivirus software is essential within a small business environment. With Norton and McAfee the biggest names in the business, we take a look at what's best for your company.
Mobile

The best mileage apps for small businesses

Small businesses that get out on the road for sales and service calls need reliable mileage trackers to help them control their time and driving expenses. Here are some of the best mileage tracking apps for iOS and Android.
Small Business

The best power banks to stay charged up on business travels

When on the move, every small business owner needs a good power bank to maintain power in order to keep their devices humming while conducting business. Here are the best of the bunch.