The Deloitte Swiss Watch Industry Study 2016
Navigating through stormy waters
The Swiss watch industry has been facing difficult conditions since 2015. Exports of watches fell in the first half of 2016 to their lowest level since 2011. According to the vast majority of watch executives surveyed, the downward trend in the Swiss watch industry will continue over the next 12 months. At the same time, new opportunities for Swiss watch companies arise such as smartwatches or 3D printing.
Sharp fall in Swiss watch exports
Exports of Swiss watches fell in the first half of 2016 to CHF 9.5 billion from CHF 10.2 billion in 2015. This is the lowest level since 2011. In July and August the decline continued. Both the value and volume of exports have been decreasing for 14 consecutive months.
54% of watch executives surveyed are pessimistic about the outlook for the Swiss economy while 65% are pessimistic about the main export markets for the next 12 months. The number of watch executives who are pessimistic about the outlook for the Swiss watch industry has doubled since 2015, peaking at 82%.
Weaker foreign demand is biggest risk
According to the survey, weaker foreign demand has become the biggest risk for watch executives overtaking the strength of the Swiss Franc. 79% consider weaker foreign demand to pose a significant risk to their business over the next 12 months, especially in Hong Kong where 57% expect fall in exports to continue.
importance of 3D
3D printing has gained a foothold in the Swiss watch industry. 64% of watch executives surveyed use this technology as a concept and prototype tool.
Swiss brands gain visibility in the smartwatch market
Our consumer survey, conducted in China, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and Switzerland, shows one notable change from last year. Swatch, which was already quoted in the top 3 smartwatch brands in 2015, is now joined by Tag Heuer.
Online shops set to become a more important sales channel
For the first time since our study was launched in 2012, watch executives are planning to focus primarily on online sales channels over the next 12 months. This seems to be the right strategy as the vast majority of consumers are likely to purchase a watch online. The use of digital media has also become an essential part of the marketing campaigns of Swiss watch companies.
- Sharp fall in Swiss watch exports in the first half of 2016 to CHF 9.5 billion
- 82% of watch executives are pessimistic about the outlook for the Swiss watch industry.
- Weaker foreign demand is perceived as the greatest risk (79%)
- 3D printing has gained foothold in the Swiss watch industry
- Swiss brands gain visibility in the smartwatch market
- Online shops set to become a more important sales channel
About the study
This is the fifth annual Deloitte Watch Industry Study. It is based on an online survey and discussions with executives, and a consumer survey which was conducted among 3,000 people in China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and the US by the data collection provider Research Now. The online survey with executives was conducted between May and July 2016. A total of more than 50 watch executives participated.