The Hour Glass Celebrates 40 Years of Partnership with Hublot | SENATUS

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The Hour Glass Celebrates 40 Years of Partnership with Hublot

5 February 2021

By Peter Vossner

Singapore's pre-eminent watch retailer, The Hour Glass, was established in October 1979 by Dr. Henry Tay and Jannie Chan. The two had had the vision of transforming the face of watch retail, presenting to customers a destination that was refined, upscale and focused on fine watchmaking, something until then that had been absent on the Singapore landscape.

Right around the same time more than four decades ago, a man by the name of Carlo Crocco was crafting his own destiny in Italy. His ambition was to create a radically different luxury-sports watch, the very notion of which had only been invented a few years before. It was in April 1980 at the Basel Fair that the world would see the first Hublot ever produced, barely months after The Hour Glass opened its doors.

Crocco’s inaugural Hublot creation was a slim nautical-inspired wristwatch that fused gold and, for the first time in watchmaking, rubber, while managing to be both minimalist and contemporary at the same time.

It was in the 80s that saw The Hour Glass and Hublot both grow from strength to strength and rise in prominence. In Singapore and Southeast Asia, the watch retailer became the purveyor of choice whilst Hublot would take the mantle as the must-have timepiece of its era. Seen on the wrists of royalty, tycoons, and celebrities from King Juan Carlos, Silvio Berlusconi, Giorgio Armani, to Sylvester Stallone, Crocco’s invention became the epitome of 1980s European chic.

This relationship would continue through testing times. When the Asian Financial Crisis hit in 1997, Hublot remained with The Hour Glass despite the inevitable downturn in business environment in the region. In turn, when Crocco was considering an exit from the brand he founded, it was Dr Henry Tay who put two-and-two together and proposed to Jean-Claude Biver at Baselworld 2004 to reach out to Crocco. Biver, who had just sold Blancpain to the Swatch Group, and was charged to reinvigorate the Omega brand, was "restless and was seeking a new challenge," reveals Dr. Henry Tay.

"I advised Jean-Claude to contact Carlo, whose children were not interested in managing Hublot, and to come to an arrangement with Carlo to gain full operational control of Hublot and build another success story with this unique and avant-gardiste marque," elaborates Dr. Tay. "A few months later, Jean-Claude called to say he was on board as a partner in Hublot... Not long after, he launched the Big Bang, which I instantly knew would be a great success - and the rest is history."

Under Biver's magic touch, Hublot would be sold to LVMH in 2008, and the relationship between the brand and the retailer would continue. Fast forward 13 years later, Hublot is now under the helm of Ricardo Guadalupe, with The Hour Glass now operating 30 points of sale for the brand, with 7 standalone Hublot boutiques, concentrated in Southeast Asia but as far afield as New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

To fête this incredible partnership, Hublot has created 11 limited edition wristwatches for the region in the last decade, capped by last year’s launch of five Southeast Asia editions, including the flagship Big Bang Chronograph South East Asia Special Edition 44 mm.

The Hour Glass is proud to be the exclusive retailer of Hublot in Southeast Asia.

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