Swiss watch exports to Hong Kong in September rose 13.7 percent as compared to the same month last year, to $216.4 million. This marks the fifth straight month of growth. Overall Swiss watch exports grew 3.7 percent to $1.82 billion.
Swiss watch imports into Hong Kong had fallen precipitously after the anti-corruption campaign launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. The super-expensive Swiss watch category had found a strong market in Hong Kong, as these were being bought as gifts and bribes according to some media reports. Now, however, Hong Kong’s imports of Swiss watches has surged due to the increasing number of consumers from mainland China, who are now buying the less expensive mid-range watches for themselves.
Hong Kong government statistics show that retail sales of watches and jewellery grew 3.1 percent over the first eight months of this year. The data has prompted retailers to expand their inventories of Swiss watches — albeit the less expensive ones. According to some retailers, the average ticket price for a Swiss watch sold to a mainland China consumer is now between 8,000 and 12,000 yuan ($1,200-$1,800), down from the average 15,000 yuan ($2,260) before the 2013 crackdown.
Purchases are also less driven by the need to display status as much as to display one’s individuality, taste and style and to reward oneself.
While Swiss watch imports into Hong Kong remain in a growth trajectory, with tourists from the mainland rising 2 percent in September as compared to a drop of 9 percent during the same month last year, industry watchers warn that China’s growing rapprochement with South Korea could see much of this tourist traffic being diverted there.