Peter Machlup on the future of luxury wristwatches

Baselworld, the world’s leading watch and jewellery exhibition has made a dramatic move by almost halving its number of exhibitors for the 2018 event. According to the organisers the move was made in part to keep quality over quantity. The shift in strategy for the exhibition can be seen as a microcosm for the luxury industry as a whole.

In a statement released by Baselworld, “the watch and jewellery market is undergoing a period of profound change, first and foremost through the increasing consolidation of the market in terms of production and marketing, but also through the challenges and opportunities of digital technology.”

Smart and digital watches are consistently eating into the luxury watch market share and brands are having to combat this with creative and innovative strategies. Trends for 2018 in luxury watch segment should reflect a tough economic climate.

Peter Machlup, a leading trader of new and pre-owned wristwatches in Melrose Arch says: “Although globally the luxury industry has taken a bit of knock, we’re still excited about what we can offer here in South Africa. The younger generation are just starting to understand the significance and craftsmanship that goes into horology. A pre-owned luxury watch is something to aspire to, and an item that won’t lose value is quickly as say a new car.”

Millennials want to be different

It’s almost common sense now that in order for brands to survive they need to appeal to the millennial market. “Quality and uniqueness are the most important factors in drawing millennial consumers to luxury products. Heritage and aspirational qualities are less important.” states a Deloitte study on what makes millennials spend more.

“Brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe and Breitling are adapting designs to include new materials and updated technology. HYT, for instance, disrupted the industry a few years ago with their hydromechanical watches which made other manufacturers sit up and take notice,” says Machlup.

Exclusivity is king

Like millennials, the uber-wealthy also look for uniqueness and once-off pieces. In 2018 we can expect to see this trend develop more. Hublot is one such brand that effectively uses this strategy by partnering with likes of Ferrari and sporting legends Pele and Usain Bolt to create limited edition timepieces that are restricted to a few hundred or so pieces.

“Limited edition pieces are not about telling the time” says Machlup. “It’s showing that you value time, that you value quality, that you value first impressions. It’s about the statement you make and how you present yourself to the world.”

Vintage and retro

2018 will also see a return of vintage styles, particularly as consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious. “New isn’t particularly better. Restoring vintage timepieces is as much as about nostalgia as it lessening our carbon footprint” says Machlup.


For the first time buyer of luxury wristwatches, Machlup offers this advice “Don’t be fooled by hefty price tags. The more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean the better it is. You need to find a timepiece that speaks to your personality and values.”

About Peter Machlup Fine Wristwatches

Peter Machlup is a compulsive collector of wristwatches. He has built up a business dealing in new and second-hand collectible watches and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the value of the most important brands. He has strict criteria that determine the watches he buys and sells: only those that hold their value over time cross the threshold of his offices in Johannesburg’s stylish Melrose Arch complex.

Peter Machlup’s business differs from that of a watch retailer. Retailers have a set number of brands; they buy for a certain price and sell for that price plus a set mark-up.

Like most serious collectors, Peter only deals in mechanical watches. Peter can offer shrewd advice about the collectability and value of a range of watches, mainly Rolex, Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier, Breitling, IWC, A. Lange & Söhne and Officine Panerai, AP Audemars Piguet, F.P. Journe, Hublot, and Franck Muller. This means he has only the best, most exciting of various ranges to show his clients. “The advantage is that if I am prepared to sell it, I am prepared to buy it back.” This is the strength of service offered by Peter Machlup. Many of his clients regularly buy and sell back to him. His second-hand watches are in first class condition, from new barely worn watches to antique collectables and all come with a guarantee and valuation.

The experience of buying a watch from Peter Machlup is unique, something you will never experience in a retail shop in Sandton, New York, Tokyo or Paris. He clearly loves the cut and thrust of negotiation as much as he loves the watches themselves. Part of the pleasure is sitting in his elegant offices, sipping espresso, paging through his library of watch-related volumes and listening to him relate the background to each timepiece. It is easy to become more than just a buyer of one watch and to turn into one of the growing community of watch collectors.