NEW YORK — A strong Christmas season for the fine watch business had vendors and retailers in high spirits at the annual North American Watch Corp. and Baume & Mercier parties here.

Executives from both firms, as well as specialty store and fine jewelry retailers, braved the fierce winter weather to attend North American’s recent cocktail party at the Waldorf-Astoria and Baume & Mercier’s dinner, dancing and entertainment at the Lotus Club.

Steven Magner, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of jewelry for Neiman Marcus, said fine watches had been leaders for him during the holidays.

“Our ladies’ business in the $2,500-to-$5,000 range doubled over last year, and our sports watch business in the $1,500-to-$4,500 range also increased,” Magner said.

James Clark, president of B.C. Clark, a fine jewelry store in Oklahoma City, Okla., said he had a record year with Baume & Mercier in 1993, and noted that holiday sales were up for him in fine watches, as well as all of his other merchandise categories.

According to Steven Kaiser, president of Baume & Mercier, his company’s business was up 20 percent in 1993.

“The purpose of this event is to say thank you to all of our accounts for supporting us and helping us grow,” Kaiser noted.

Efraim Grinberg, president of North American Watch, U.S. distributor for the Piaget, Corum, Concord, Movado and Esquire watch lines, said his firm’s U.S. business was up last year, but noted that the recession in Europe and Japan continues to make business tough.