Kelburn shop to shut after 52 years

Last updated 13:51 31/01/2012
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TIME GOES MARCHING ON: Horst Maluschnig is closing down his watch shop after 52 years.

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After more than half a century in business, time has run out for Kelburn's Watch Clinic.

Austrian owner Horst Maluschnig dedicated most of his life to horology and operated the shop in Kelburn for 52 years.

One of his first customers was a 10-year-old boy who came in on his way to school.

"Thirty-five years later, he came in again with his own children. That was lovely," he said.

Maluschnig shut up shop after his deteriorating eyesight meant he could no longer repair timepieces.

The 72-year-old suffers from macular degeneration, which is an age-related condition that results in the loss of vision.

"In a way it's a blessing. Otherwise I would be here for another 10 years," he said.

"I intend to travel around New Zealand with my wife. We will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary next year."

Maluschnig arrived in New Zealand from Austria at 20 to join his brother, Kurt, who opened the watch repair shop.

A year later, he met his wife Joan and has remained in the capital ever since.

"When my brother set up his own jewellery shop in town in 1965, I took over. That was a momentous occasion for me.

"I've always enjoyed working here and have found most of the people to be very loyal."

He says he has seen great changes to the watch industry in the past 50 years, but none more significant than the rise of the electrical watch.

"The biggest change was in the early '70s when the Quartz business started. That hit the Swiss pretty hard.

"They didn't expect the Japanese to come out so quick with it. Some thought it wouldn't last but that's not the way technology works."

While the craft of repairing a watch has changed with the rise of technology, Maluschnig believes the art of watch repair is timeless.

"I think it'll become a specialist skill. If someone got skilled at the trade they would be able to name their price because of the number of antique clocks, some of which are very valuable. Someone has to repair them."

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