Swiss exports match record – Better time for watches

The Swiss watch industry, in deep decline for 10 years, made a fragile recovery in 1984, which in terms of exports almost matched the record year of 1981.

Based on figures for the first 10 months of 1984, Andre Margot, president of the Watch- making Federation, which represents the approximately 700 companies involved in the industry, said exports of watches and movements probably grew for the year by 8 per cent in volume and 13.5 per cent in value, to almost 3.9 billion francs ($1.5-billion U.S.).

In the face of severe competition, employment in Switzerland’s watch industry has been cut by more than half in the past decade, including a 5 per cent drop in employment in 1984 to 30,000.

In 1983, to counter falling demand, the industry was restructured through the merging of the two largest companies, Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie and Societe Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogere.

Qualifying the success of the merger, Mr. Margot said: “The cash flow from the newly formed group leaves much to be desired. . . . A real pickup in investment has yet to come. There remains still, unfortunately, an excess of unused capacity and those unemployed . . . have yet to be reabsorbed.”

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