By  on October 22, 2009

PARIS — Swiss watchmakers, battered by the economic crisis, failed to show any improving trends last month, as exports continued to decline.

The value of Swiss watch exports fell 26.1 percent to 1.1 billion Swiss francs, or $1.09 billion at current exchange, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Since January, exports have fallen 25.9 percent, with their total value shrinking to 2006 levels.

After five years of strong growth, the Swiss watch industry has seen demand for expensive timepieces decline as consumers drastically cut spending on luxury items.

For wristwatches costing less than 200 Swiss francs, or $198, at export price, the number of pieces exported halved last month, while watches below 500 Swiss francs, or $495, performed much better, registering a decline of around 4 percent.

More expensive watches up to 3,000 Swiss francs, or $2,970, fell 18.2 percent, but the decline widened to 26 percent for timepieces priced at more than 3,000 Swiss francs.

Analysts said the data were disappointing, because the narrower decline in exports registered in August had hinted at a potential recovery toward the end of the year.

The Chinese market, which has remained buoyant for luxury leather goods and high-end fashion, went into reverse last month with a 1.1 percent drop, compared with a 20 percent growth recorded in August. India was the only market that registered a rise in watch exports, up 9.9 percent compared with September 2008.

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