Apple Watch launch puts Swiss Watch exports in a slump

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Apple needs no shelter, thank you.
Swiss watchmakers have one more reason not to like the Apple Watch.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FSWI) has announced today that for the first time since 2009 exports of traditional timepieces are down, and it looks like Apple Watch is to blame.

Wristwatch exports from Switzerland fell almost 9 percent between April and May, according to the FSWI numbers. The news comes on the heels of the launch of Apple Watch on April 24th, which combined with fluctuating currency markets to cause the industry’s first slump in over six years.

“Watch exports to the U.S. in the lower price segments could also have had some negative impact from the launch of the Apple Watch,” analyst Patrik Schwendimann told Bloomberg. The U.S. market might only grow by a low single-digit percentage this year, slowing down from 6 percent growth in 2014, he said.

It’s not just exports to the U.S. that are slowing down, either. The report shows a 34 percent decline in Hong Kong, where Chinese consumers frequently buy timepieces to take advantage of lower taxes. Fewer working days were had in May compared to last year, so that could have contributed to the drop, too.

The Apple Watch definitely appears to be at least a part of the equation that is eating into the Swiss watch business, and it could get worse. Local business expect to take a hit once Apple Watch goes on sale on June 26th.