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government-trade

Swiss Watch Sales Fall 3.9% in May

Exports of Swiss timepieces were affected by a drop in sales of gold watches.

PARIS — Swiss watch exports fell 3.9 percent in May, sapped by a drop in sales of gold watches and an unfavorable comparison with the same period last year, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported on Thursday.

Foreign sales of Swiss timepieces reached 1.8 billion Swiss francs, or $1.93 billion, in the month, according to the federation. This followed increases of 5.7 percent in April and 0.6 percent in March.

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

Growth in the first five months of the year totaled just 1.7 percent, reflecting a sharp slowdown in key markets like Hong Kong and China, where a government crackdown on corruption has dented sales of luxury timepieces.

The number of exported wristwatches fell 7.9 percent in relation to May 2012, due mainly to a 13.9 percent drop in the amount of gold watches. Over the first five months of the year, 840,000 fewer watches were exported, representing a drop of 7.3 percent, the federation noted.

Only timepieces costing between 200 and 500 francs, or $210 to $524, were exempt from the slide. Sales of watches costing less than 200 francs fell by 14.2 percent in volume terms. Meanwhile, exports of watches costing more than 3,000 francs, or $3,142, were down 4.1 percent, their first monthly decline in more than three years.

Hong Kong and China continued to report declining sales, with drops of 15.7 percent and 19.4 percent, respectively. Sales in the United States eased by 0.9 percent, while France posted a 14.7 percent decrease. Italy was up 4.7 percent, and Germany recorded a rise of 8.4 percent.