Several recent reports show the Swiss watch industry facing it's largest challenge since the quartz crisis of the late 1970s, early 1980s:
- Swiss watch exports in May were down 27.6 percent compared to the same period last year.
- Sales in May of Swiss watches dropped 25 percent year-over-year, with the US market dropping by 42.7 percent.
- Franck Muller, a standout for most of the decade, cut almost half of its workforce last month.
- Higher-end watches were especially hit hard: exports of watches costing more than 3,000 Swiss francs ($2,760) fell 30 percent in May.
But it's not all bad news--Patek Philippe, one of the last major independent Geneva-based watch manufacturers, told Swiss newspaper L'Agefi recently that sales are flat to slightly up in 2009 so far.
Anyone surprised by how badly the industry has been hit?