Swiss watch industry suffers steep decline

Geneva: Swiss watch exports in March 2016 totalled 1.5 billion CHF (about $1.55 billion), down 16.1 percent from last year, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported on Thursday. Representing the lowest March figures since 2011, the federation indicated in a statement that "the scale of the downturn is also unusual since we must go back to the crisis of 2009 to find rates of variation of this order", Xinhua news agency reported. Exports to all major markets bar Germany declined last month, with exports to China's Hong-Kong and the United States dropping by close to 38 and 33 percent respectively. Meanwhile, Swiss watch exports to the Chinese mainland fell by 13.7 percent. According to the federation, exports of watches costing between 500 and 3,000 CHF showed a smaller decline than timepieces whose prices were either inferior to 200 CHF or above 3,000 CHF. The 200 to 500 CHF price-range fared the worst, falling as much as 27.1 percent both in terms of value and volume. ($1 = 0.97 Swiss Franc).