Swiss watchmakers clock record exports in 2012

GENEVA - Swiss watchmakers posted record exports last year of 21.4 billion Swiss francs (17 billion euros, $23.5 billion), which was nearly 11 percent more than a year earlier, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Tuesday.

"In an often unfavourable economic climate, the Swiss watch industry clearly managed to hold its own," the federation said in a statement.

The Swiss watchmaking industry has over the past three years seen an unprecedented surge in sales, especially in China, which is displaying an increasing appetite for European luxury goods.

That trend might be shifting however. In December, Swiss watch exports slipped 5.6 percent to 1.8 billion Swiss francs, with a 15-percent drop in their biggest market, Hong Kong, and a full 32.3-percent plunge in mainland China.

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