ZURICH (Reuters) - Sales of LVMH's (>> LVMH Moët Hennessy Vuitton SE) watch brands could maintain their double-digit percentage growth in the second half of 2017, despite tougher year-on-year comparisons, the head of the luxury company's watch business said on Thursday.
Watch and jewellery sales at the world's biggest luxury company rose 13 percent in the first half, outperforming the watch businesses of Swiss rivals Swatch Group (>> The Swatch Group) and Richemont (>> Compagnie Financière Richemont).
"We hope to be able to maintain this pace of growth even if the comparables are less favourable in the second half," Jean-Claude Biver, who is in charge of LVMH's TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith brands, said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
Swatch Group gave a similarly positive outlook for the second half last month.
Biver said TAG Heuer's second-generation "connected" watch launched in March had become the brand's best-selling model by the end of July. The watch lets wearers switch between a smartwatch head and a traditional mechanical watch movement.
He also said TAG Heuer was working on a smartwatch that could connect to high-speed mobile networks without needing a linked smartphone within range, confirming a report in Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung.
Biver's comments came just days after media reports that Apple Inc (>> Apple) planned to release a version of its smartwatch later this year with an LTE (Long Term Evolution) modem to connect to high-speed networks.
"We still need to solve some technical problems and find agreements with the different operators in the countries where we'd like to sell this LTE watch," Biver said, without giving further details.
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; editing by David Clarke)
By Silke Koltrowitz