Bolstered by robust sales of gold timepieces, Swiss watch exports increased 21.7 percent in June in value terms, representing the strongest monthly growth of the first half.

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Foreign sales of Swiss watches in the month totaled 1.9 billion Swiss francs, or $1.98 billion at average exchange for the period, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said today.

Total sales in the first six months rose 16.4 percent year-over-year, surpassing the 10 billion Swiss franc mark, or $10.46 billion.

A slowdown in growth is expected at the end of 2012.

The volume of timepieces exported fell in relation to June 2011, the federation said, dragged down by a 9.1 percent decline in sales of watches costing less than 200 francs, or $210. By contrast, sales of timepieces costing more than 3,000 francs, or $3,140, rose 34.4 percent in value terms, maintaining their strong momentum.

Swiss watch exports to Hong Kong and the U.S. recorded above-average increases, up 28 percent and 23.8 percent, respectively.

Citing tough comps, China continued to post slower growth, with a sales decline of 22.6 percent versus the equivalent year-ago period, though business in the first half remains well above 2011 levels, the federation said.

Europe “bounced back,” carried by a strong performance from Germany, which posted a 64.6 percent increase in sales.

In a recent report on the Swiss watch industry, Citi Research downgraded Swatch to “neutral” from “buy,” citing Swatch’s “recent cautious comments on China/high-end segment and the ongoing underperformance of the midrange segment at Swiss watch industry level” among factors.

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