Sharp Decline in Swiss Watch Imports

North Korea imported 386 high-end Swiss watches this year, it has been revealed.

According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, mechanical and digital watches with a combined value of US$76,000 were purchased by the North in 2013.

This figure represents a 50% decrease from 2012.

“North Korea purchases a very small number of watches, as the domestic market for watches is small,” Head of the Economy and Statistics Department at the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry Philippe Pegoraro told Radio Free Asia on the 24th.

Some North Korea watchers have questioned if the reduced import volume reflects worsening economic conditions.

North Korea imported approximately 2000 Swiss watches in 2005, but this figure dropped precipitously to 26 the following year as a result of United Nations economic sanctions initiated in response to the North’s nuclear test.

Imports have been on the rise since 2007, with 450 watches imported in 2008, 660 in 2009 and 590 in 2011.

Kim Jong Eun is known to engage in “gift politics” by presenting watches and other luxury items in exchange for loyalty.