by Cenel van Achterbergh - Chief Operations Officer


Timeless luxury and authenticity


Specialising in new and pre-loved watches, and with a remarkable reputation built over more than a decade, Topwatch boasts more than 30 000 listed clients and has established itself as one of the most trusted and respected watch brands.

“Our CEO, Johan Dreyer, serial entrepreneur and business genius, started his business (then called Top End) as a spin-off following his love and passion for watches. As an avid watch collector, he used to sell some of his own pieces to friends and colleagues. It became apparent that there is great interest in and keenness for purchasing used luxury timepieces. The result? Topwatch was born,” explains Cenél van Achterbergh, Chief Operations Officer.

“Now, with over a decade of used luxury watch trading experience and expertise, the company has been rebranded and Topwatch was born as a brand in 2013. I joined as the first employee in January 2014, initially heading up sales, then marketing management and, today, filling the role as COO, which I am very proud of. Assisting in keeping all the ‘gears’ of our business together is what makes me ‘tick’!”

Van Achterbergh grew up in an environment where business-related conversations often dominated the dinner table. “My dad is a remarkable businessman who always shared his experiences, decisions and successes with the family. We were always exposed to the most interesting business-related conversations and Dad challenging us to think ‘outside of the box’ in his creative way of doing things. This motivated me to become a business and marketing professional,” she says.

As a top-of-the-class marketing student, she gained some extremely valuable experience while working under her father’s guidance and leadership, whilst being a student and also after graduating from the IMM GSM. Her love for high-ticket luxury goods and the art of marketing these goods saw her working for one of SA’s most prestigious diamond and jewellery dealers, prior to joining Topwatch.

“Little did I know how much this experience would benefit our success at Topwatch. I still vividly remember how excited I was after meeting with Johan to join Topwatch. The newly rebranded company was a couple of months old and, while listening to all the plans and the vision Johan had for the business, I desperately wanted to be part of this,” explains van Achterbergh.

“I knew that it would be a great success and I did not want to miss out on where this amazing company would be going. I also recognised Johan’s talent, business savvy, experience and know-how. And I knew I wanted to know everything that he knows about business. Today, Johan and I form the core team of Topwatch and I have never looked back. My growth with and in this business is what I am most proud of today,” she adds.

Topwatch provides clients with the opportunity to engage in the extremely luxurious side of style: the watch. Not only is the watch a timeless piece but a lifetime investment and at Topwatch, clients can purchase this luxury item at a fraction of the original price. In only four years, the brand has over 200 watches in stock at any given moment, more than 150 on the website and ready to be shipped to their new owners. With 65 000 Facebook followers, 50 000 newsletter subscribers and a favourable following on all relevant platforms, Topwatch enjoys significant recognition and participation from their followers. “I would say that this counts for impressive growth in terms of our client base and support. Topwatch almost has a cult-like following in the market.

“Our market and following consist of those who aspire to indulge in the world of health, luxury, success, comfort and wellness. High-end watches portray a lot more than any other item of status. No one displays their car keys anymore. This is especially true for eastern worlds, which in turn, own the largest luxury watch market share,” she explains.

Rolex has been number one since Topwatch’s existence. Other brands include Audemars Piguet, Breitling, Cartier, Chopard, Hublot, IWC, JLC, Omega, Panerai, TAG Heuer and Richard Mille. Every single Topwatch timepiece undergoes a stringent process of verification and quality checks before being delivered to their clients in like-new condition. Just like that impressive watch with its own in-house movement, Topwatch now has a state-of-the-art exclusive in-house service centre. The newest leg of the business, the Topwatch exclusive workshop, opened in 2016. Topwatch watches are serviced by South Africa’s best. Clients can expect competitive prices, better turnaround times, prompt feedback and overall satisfaction. With a combined 75 years of watchmaking experience, the results speak volumes. They are also now open to the public for watch-related repairs, services and refurbishments.

“Quality guarantee and authenticity is our top priority. The Topwatch workshop inspects, analyses and restores each item to factory standards. This empowers us to confidently offer a comprehensive 12-month warranty and even buy-back options. We ensure our own peace of mind when buying and restoring these magnificent pieces so that our clients can have theirs.

“We use all our resources and relationships with manufacturers to make entirely sure that everything we sell is completely authentic. Replica watches are damaging to the industry and fund criminal activity across the globe. Topwatch resents any form of involvement in such practices. Wherever possible, we only buy complete sets, with box and papers, unless we know the client to be in good standing. Wherever we come across replica pieces, with the owner’s permission, we shall do our utmost to take it out of circulation,” says van Achterbergh. She explains that as a prospective buyer, seller or trader, clients can be assured of a few things: that all Topwatch watches are selectively and securely purchased from legitimate sources, authenticity is verified through the company’s expert watchmakers, and that watches are all tested, regulated and pressure sealed to ensure the 12-month warranty provides you with that additional peace of mind.

“Knowing that we are seen by over a million eyes annually, we always strive to offer the best prices when selling; yet paying the highest possible prices when buying. We love to know that we place you in the best position, whether buying or selling your watch. It would seem ludicrous to even consider buying elsewhere,” she says. When it comes to successes of the company, she states that their world-class website, being featured in numerous popular magazines, selling over 3 000 watches annually and recently breaking records in terms of turnover, are definitely highlights.

However, their largest success story is simply who and what they are today. “In what seems like no time, we have risen to be the very best in the business. When looking at Topwatch and realising what we have achieved and how we have grown in these short years, you realise that that in itself is the largest success story.

“We believed in Topwatch and its potential to be who we are today (and also where we are heading). This presented us with challenges in terms of investing everything we have and taking that risk. We bit the proverbial bullet and refused to let any small setback get us down. We overcame all the challenges that presented themselves as a result of our vision and growth and never backed down or allowed doubt to discourage us.

“This all happened with a tiny start-up budget. However, the lessons learnt and savvy gained was well worth these experiences. In summary, the success of our organisation can be ascribed to unmatched entrepreneurial skill, hands-on leadership, a motivated and skilled team, streamlined logistics and a genius business model that is understood and enthusiastically executed by everyone involved. We appreciate the concept of change and adaptability and we make sure we are always one step ahead.

“With characteristics like this, Topwatch cannot but keep looking forward to an even brighter future and a legacy that stands the test of time,” concludes van Achterbergh.

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Issue 83


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