A pedestrian walks past an advertisement for Rolex watches in China.

Swiss watch exports advanced 5.5 percent in August, lifted by the industry’s main markets, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Thursday.

Exports in the month totaled 1.5 billion Swiss francs, or $1.55 billion, rising at a slightly slower pace than in July, and with the most important market, Hong Kong, gaining 14.5 percent.

The August data “seem to confirm a moderate growth” in the second half of the year, noted Luca Solca, analyst with Exane BNP Paribas, in a research note to clients.

At 9 percent, growth in the U.S. confirmed the recovery of that market, the federation said. Exports to China grew at a brisk 18.6 percent, with the federation flagging a favorable comparison base.

Europe posted a decline, down 4.3 percent overall despite a stabilization of exports to the U.K., up 0.6 percent, while France, Italy and Spain saw drops.

“After a challenging start to the year, the downturn reported for several months in the United Kingdom seems now to have stabilized,” the federation noted. It flagged strength in Japan, which has become an important tourist destination for the Asian region, and where exports grew 9 percent, as another bright spot for the industry.

“Japan has as yet seen no weakness since the end of 2017 and its situation has in fact strengthened month on month.”

Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Thailand also posted strong growth in August, up 25 percent, 21.9 percent and 33.3 percent, respectively.

Growth in exports during August was led by higher priced watches, with timepieces priced above 500 francs posting a 7.7 percent rise while exports of timepieces priced below 500 francs fell 10.2 percent.

Precious metal and bimetal watches grew the fastest, up 7.6 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively.

The watch export figures, which set growth for the year thus far at a pace of 9.5 percent, are eyed for clues about the health of the broader luxury industry.

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