Saturday, October 21, 2017

We sail tonight for Singapore...

Don't fall asleep while you're ashore...

Courtesy of the FH
Now on the surface, this continuing upward climb is encouraging.
But when digging into the actual numbers, this latest report from the FH brings up more questions than it actually answers.

Interesting to relate, Singapore rocketed into the third position for September's numbers.  In fact, Singapore's rapid rise is curious at best, or to put it more plainly, somewhat dubious.  And I think the numbers as reported by the FH bear this dubious curiosity out:

1.  Hong Kong 213.4 Million CHF, 12.1% export share, an increase of 13.7%.

2.  USA 198.8 Million CHF,  10.9% export share, a decrease of -0.6%.

3.  Singapore 122.2 Million CHF, 10.1% export share, an increase of - wait for it - 89.6%!

Un petit mystère, n'est-ce pas?

Or as that other great watch commentator, Tom Waits noted -

We sail tonight for Singapore
Don't fall asleep while you're ashore
Cross your heart and hope to die
When you hear the children cry
Let marrow bone and cleaver choose
While making feet for children's shoes
Through the alley
Back from Hell
When you hear that steeple bell
You must say goodbye to me

Tom Waits, Singapore

Or to put it more plainly, while these numbers are numbers, they simply don't add up.  Or to put it even more plainly, these curious spikes of exports bound for increasingly random locations further bear out the possibility that what we are really seeing is the further push to clear the supply line pipes prior to the new Swissness regulations.

Let me state this in a different context - Puerto Rico represents one of the least publicly acknowledged, yet most important destinations for watches in the "US" market.  Confused?  Don't be, despite what a certain orange-hued fellow might have you believe, Puerto Rico is a territory of the US.  More pertinent to this conversation?  The reality of natural disasters that have hit Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.  And why is Puerto Rico important to the North American watch retail numbers?  Because of the sheer number of watches that go in and out bound for the wrists of tourists (and parallel markets). Just as the wildfires raging through Northern California will radically impact the wine market in the coming years, the inability of retailers to sell (or shift) the very large quantities of watches in locations like Puerto Rico will, naturally, have a knock-on impact on already anemic sales in North America.  

Now to be fair, there are some watch brands and retailers who reported good sales in August.  And I sincerely hope that these were one-off months.  Like everyone else involved in the watch business, I have a personal stake in this particular game of poker, and I hope we all get some winning cards dealt.  But card-counting and gaming the system are not long-term solutions to very real problems.

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