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Swiss watch makers Swatch (SWGAY) and Richemont (CFRUY) gained in Thursday trading in Zurich on news of a surprise jump in Swiss timepiece sales.

Exports increased by 9% in May to Sfr1.7 billion ($1.74 billion) compared with the same month last year, according to data from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. The numbers were significantly higher than April, which saw exports fall 5.7% to Sfr1.53 billion.

The data points to a recovery in an industry that has been hit by sluggish global economic growth, geopolitical risks and technological change spell a further period of restructuring and consolidation for the sector.

Swatch shares were up 1.44% to Sfr373.30 at 10:39CET, extending an 8% rise in the past three months.

Richemont shares gained1.43% to Sfr81.30, extending a three-month gain of 5.72%.

Sales in several important markets posted very strong growth. Hong Kong and China saw growth of 18.1% and 34.4% respectively. In Europe, Italy saw the highest growth with 26.7% and the U.K. had an increase of 12.9%.

Sales of luxury goods has been boosted in the U.K. as the fall in the pound since last June's Brexit referendum making goods cheaper.

Analysts have warned that Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) Apple Watch and other wearable technology is posing an is posing an increasing threat to the Swiss luxury sector - particularly the cheaper quartz-based potion of the iconic industry.

UBS in September said Apple Watch sales will pose more of a challenge to Swatch's mid-range models such as Tissot and Longines than the higher-priced time pieces from domestic rival Richemont.

A theory that has been borne out in today's figures. While watches priced at more than Sfr3000 saw sales rise 12.9%, making it the fastest growing segment, watches under the price of Sfr200 were the worst hit, with a decline of 7.3%.

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