Jony Ive’s year-ago prediction that the Swiss watch industry would be in trouble once the Apple Watch launched appears to have been correct (his actual language was said to have been stronger). Bloomberg reports that Swiss watch exports suffered their biggest slump in six years.
Shipments declined 12 percent to 2 billion Swiss francs ($2 billion), the Swiss customs office said in a statement Thursday. Adjusted for fewer working days, the drop was 7.6 percent. Exports to the U.S. dropped 12 percent.
“2015 has been one to forget for the watchmakers,” said Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich.
The figures show that both higher- and lower-end brands are being hit hard, especially in the world’s biggest market for Swiss watches, Hong Kong …
The industry is pulling back in the island city, with TAG Heuer shuttering a store there in August. Richemont, , the maker of Cartier jewelry and IWC timepieces, has said its sales declined in October on weak watch demand.
Swatch and Fossil are likewise suffering, report analysts.
Swatch co-inventor Elmar Mock had said the day after the Apple Watch was launched that “anything in the price range of 500 francs to 1,000 francs [US$500-$1,000] is really in danger.”
Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver’s hope that “Apple will get young people used to wearing a watch and later maybe they will want to buy themselves a real watch” is not looking too good right now. The company launched its own $1500 smartwatch earlier this month, but appeared to have extremely low sales expectations.