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Swiss Watch Exports Fall 5.6% in December

Exports rose 10.9 percent in 2012, as weakness in Asia and the United States dragged down year-end sales.

PARIS Swiss watch exports rose 10.9 percent in 2012, as a decline in December confirmed that the key Asian and U.S. markets are losing steam, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported on Tuesday.

Foreign sales of Swiss timepieces fell 5.6 percent in December to 1.76 billion Swiss francs, or $1.92 billion, according to the federation. This followed a 4.5 percent rise in November. In 2012 as a whole, the value of Swiss watch exports totaled 21.4 billion Swiss francs, or $22.83 billion. 

Dollar figures are calculated at average exchange for the period to which they refer. 

The number of exported wristwatches fell 15.3 percent in relation to December 2011, with sharp declines in the amount of platinum watches sold — down 49.7 percent.

Sales of watches priced above 3,000 francs, or $3,255, rose 1.4 percent in value terms, failing to compensate for a 12.9 percent drop in sales of watches costing less than 3,000 francs, the federation noted.

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China recorded a 32.3 percent drop in sales of Swiss watches, while Hong Kong was down 15 percent. The region is said to be flush with inventories, and sales are believed to have suffered from the timing of the Chinese New Year, which this year falls on Feb. 10 compared with Jan. 22 last year.

Sales in the United States were down 5.2 percent in the month. “The United States, the second largest market, posted a more moderate downturn which confirmed the regular slowdown in growth seen on this market since last summer,” the federation stated.

By contrast, sales in Germany jumped 45.9 percent, while Italy posted a 32.4 percent rise. France was the exception in Europe, recording a 17.8 percent decline.