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(Bloomberg) -- Swiss watch exports rose at the fastest monthly pace in more than four years in October, helped by an easy comparison with last year and fueled by Asian demand for higher-priced timepieces.

Shipments increased 9.3 percent to 1.85 billion francs ($1.9 billion) in October, the sixth consecutive monthly increase, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Tuesday. The gain is the biggest since January 2013.

The latest export figures underline the industry’s recovery after it exited its longest slump on record earlier this year. Gains have been led by China, as the effects of a four-year crackdown on corruption waned, with the U.S. lagging behind.

There’s been a “massive” recovery in the market and Swatch Group AG’s sales accelerated in October after rising more than 10 percent in September, Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said in an interview published by NZZ am Sonntag two days ago. The company’s Omega brand unveiled its first e-commerce site, for the U.S. market, on Monday.

Some clouds lie on the horizon, among them an anticorruption campaign in Saudi Arabia similar to China’s. Still, the Middle Eastern market is smaller than that of the Asian country, which is the biggest consumer of Swiss watches.

Smartwatch competition has been weighing on less expensive timepieces. Apple Inc. has said sales of its Apple Watch have risen more than 50 percent for three straight quarters. That’s weighing on less expensive Swiss timepieces the most. Shipments of watches with wholesale values of less than 200 francs fell 3.4 percent in October, the only price category to decline.

Watches costing 500 francs to 3,000 francs rose 20 percent, leading gains.

Among other highlights:

  • Shipments to Hong Kong, the biggest export market, rose 16 percent in October.
  • Exports to the U.S. fell 7.3 percent.
  • Exports to the U.K. rose 1.2 percent as the boost from the weak pound wears off.
  • Saudi Arabia was the 13th-biggest export market in the first 10 months of the year, importing 273 million francs worth. That’s less than 2 percent of total exports.
  • The United Arab Emirates was the biggest Middle Eastern market in the 10-month period, importing 714 million francs worth.

(Updates with Swatch in fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Mulier in Geneva at tmulier@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.net, John J. Edwards III

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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