The value of Swiss watch exports last year reached a record SFr11.1 billion ($9.3 billion), the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said on Thursday.
This represents a jump of 9.2 per cent on 2003, underlining the strength of the sector’s recovery.
“The year 2004 saw in particular two very strong monthly increases in June and August, as well as two successive records with the highest monthly values ever achieved, in October and November,” said the Biel-based Federation in a statement.
It added that the decline recorded in 2003, where watch exports fell by 4.4 per cent to SFr10.177 billion, had been reversed due to the more stable world geopolitical situation and a sustained economic recovery in the United States.
“The pleasing growth recorded by Swiss watch exports should continue in 2005 with, however, a different development of the main regions compared with 2004,” added the Federation.
Exports of finished watches made even stronger gains than the sector as a whole, with their value rising to SFr10.2 billion, up 9.9 per cent compared with 2003.
The value of steel timepieces, which accounted for one in two watches exported, rose by almost 11 per cent and that of gold timepieces by around ten per cent.
US on top
The US remained the premier market for the Swiss watch industry, with an increase of 12.9 per cent to SFr1.9 billion. The Federation said that this was mainly due to the good economic climate in the country during 2004.
It was followed by Hong Kong, whose economy has recovered from the outbreak of the Sars virus and where watch exports rose by 15.6 per cent and Japan, where watch exports remained stable with a 0.5 per cent increase.
The news came as the world's largest watchmaker, the Swatch Group, said on Wednesday that its 2004 sales had increased 4.7 per cent to SFr4.15 billion from SFr3.97 billion the previous year.
Swatch said this was largely due to good results from its luxury watch business and added that it expected its full-year profit, to be announced in March, to increase, despite the negative effects of exchange rates.
swissinfo with agencies
Top five watch export markets
1. USA SFr1.9 billion +12.9 per cent
2. Hong Kong SFr1.6 billion +15.6 per cent
3. Japan SFr990 million +0.5 per cent
4. Italy SFr777 million +5.7 per cent
5. France SFr611 million +0 per cent
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