Exports were valued at 1.7 billion francs ($1.8 billion), up just 0.6 percent from a year earlier, following a fall in February, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industy (FH) said in a monthly report.
“While growth has clearly slowed compared to 2012, the levels attained remain very high, with the first quarter closing at 4.7 billion francs, an increase of 2.4 percent,” the report said.
The actual number of timepieces sold fell in March by 160,000 to 2.1 million units, FH said.
Watches selling for less than 3,000 francs (export price) fell by 6.4 percent in value.
But this was offset by a robust increase in luxury watches (those with an export price of more than 3,000 francs), which rose 7.2 percent in value, FH said.
Last year, the Swiss watch industry set an all-time record for exports of more than 21 billion francs.
The watch industry’s Q1 figures were matched by generally encouraging numbers for overall Swiss exports issued on Tuesday by the federal customs administration (FCA).
Swiss exports rose 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013, while imports gained 2.6 percent over the the first three months of 2012, the FCA said.
These figures were “corrected” to reflect the fact there were three fewer working days for the period this year than in 2012.
The actual figures showed a 0.7 percent drop in exports to 49.8 billion francs, while imports dropped 1.8 percent to 43.9 billion francs.
On the plus side, exports of food products, drinks and tobacco rose 11 percent, the FCA said.
Trade with the European Union continued to suffer, with 15,900 fewer motor vehicles imported in the quarter.