PARIS — Swiss watch sales grew 11.1 percent year-on-year in March, despite an unfavorable comparison base with 2010, with total sales of 1.4 billion Swiss francs, or $1.52 billion, thanks to strong demand from Asia and the Middle East, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said.

Sales for the first quarter rose 14.7 percent compared with the same period last year, for a total of 3.9 billion Swiss francs, or $4.14 billion, surpassing the level recorded in 2008, the Swiss watch industry’s best year on record, it added. Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the period in question.

The mid-priced segment saw the biggest increase in March, with watches priced between 200 and 500 francs, or $217 and $543, posting an increase of close to 40 percent. This compared with a 3.3 percent increase in value terms in timepieces costing between 500 francs and 3,000 francs, or $543 and $3,255.

Sales to China soared 63.5 percent, despite an already high comparison basis, while exports to Hong Kong posted a 21.6 percent rise. However, the United States saw the first sales drop in more than a year, falling 10.2 percent.

In the first three months of the year, sales to Saudi Arabia were up 66 percent, while the United Arab Emirates saw a jump of 81.5 percent, suggesting that political unrest in neighboring countries has not dampened appetite for luxury watches.

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