“In a partially unfavourable context, prospects remain very good for the Swiss watch industry,” the federation said in a statement.
Swiss brokerage Helvea noted that December exports remained strong, growing 21 percent from a year earlier, with watches in the 3,000 Swiss franc price range making a strong showing.
Overall, the industry federation said sales for 2011 were up 19.2 percent.
“Except for 2010, which followed a major downturn, growth in the last 20 years has never been so strong,” it said, noting that the trend was constant through the year.
“These excellent results were penalised however by the strength of the Swiss franc, which put a strain on margins and selling prices,” it commented.
At the same time, Swiss watchmakers enjoyed strong demand globally, “particularly on high-potential markets less affected by exchange rate fluctuations.”
The five biggest markets were Hong Kong at 4.1 billion francs, the United States on 1.9 billion francs, emerging giant China with 1.6 billion francs, France at 1.3 billion francs and Singapore, 1.1 billion francs.
The world’s biggest watch group Swatch announced on January 10th it had for the first time exceeded 7 billion francs in annual sales despite the negative impact of the strong local currency.