Hong Kong, a regional distribution hub for luxury goods, still accounted for 12.3% of Switzerland's global watch exports last year, which amounted to a total of 21.7 billion Swiss francs (US$22.3bil), the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported on Tuesday .
"Hong Kong was heavily penalised by the protests that have been taking place there since June," the industry group said in a statement.
While exports rose in terms of value, the number of watches shipped abroad dropped by more than 13 per cent to 20.6 million pieces, reaching a level comparable to the early 1980s.
Last year's overall sales increase was almost exclusively due to growth in the high-end segment, which includes mechanical or precious metal watches which sell for more than 3,000 francs.
In contrast, Swiss manufacturers saw a decline in less expensive quartz and steel watches.
Swiss watch sales increased the most in Japan, China, Singapore, Britain and the United States last year, while markets on the European mainland remained flat.
Looking ahead, the industry group cited the strength of the Swiss franc, the political paralysis in Hong Kong, the US presidential election and an ongoing coronavirus epidemic in China as its biggest challenges. - dpa/Asian News Network