Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss watch exports climbed 19 percent in 2011 to a record as Asian consumers fueled a boom in the market for luxury timepieces.
Shipments rose to 19.3 billion Swiss francs ($21.1 billion) from 16.2 billion francs a year earlier, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said today on its website. Exports in December gained 21 percent, accelerating from the 16 percent pace set during the previous month.
Consumers in Asia bought more than half of the Swiss timepieces sold abroad last year, while China became the third- biggest destination for watch exports. Shipments to Hong Kong, the biggest market, jumped 28 percent. The rising number of millionaires in China is boosting demand for luxury goods in the country. Wealthy Chinese consumers own about four high-end watches on average, according to the Hurun Wealth Report.
Shipments to the U.S. and China, the second and third biggest markets for Swiss watches, increased 18 percent and 49 percent, respectively.
Swiss-watch exports will probably climb to another record in 2012, though growth may slow to a “single-digit” pace, Jean-Daniel Pasche, the head of the trade group, said in a Jan. 18 interview. While the market in Asia will continue to expand, growth in Europe will be “very low,” he said.
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