PARIS — Swiss watch exports gained ground in May, rising 5.3 percent, lifted by fast growth in Hong Kong, the industry’s biggest market, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Thursday.
Sales of Swiss watch exports reached 1.8 billion Swiss francs, or $1.8 billion, with exports to Hong Kong, up 26 percent, accounting for nearly two-thirds of global growth, the federation noted.
Watch exports, seen as a barometer for the luxury-goods industry, are closely eyed for clues about the appetite for high-end goods.
“Another good month,” said Luca Solca, head luxury analyst with Exane BNP Paribas, in a research note to clients, noting muted growth in China was due to a high base of comparison.
The pace of exports to China eased, up 5.8 percent. In Japan, growth came in at 5.5 percent. The U.S. clocked brisk gains, rising 9.8 percent, which the federation read as a return to positive growth prospects in the medium term.
Italy’s gradual recovery, on the other hand, dropped off suddenly, marking a 21.2 percent decline. Neighboring France registered an 8.8 percent advance.
Sales of gold and steel watches increased the most, up 9.3 percent, while precious metal timepieces inched up at a much slower pace, 1.8 percent. Steel watches rose 7.8 percent.
In terms of price category, lower-end timepieces, priced at up to 200 Swiss francs, continued to rise, up 8.1 percent. Watches in the 500 to 3,000 Swiss franc range grew fastest, advancing 9.3 percent, while watches above that price level increased 4.8 percent.