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The Hour Glass and Rolex

Our History

From the uncertain times of the 1950s, a group of forward-thinking individuals laid the foundations for the watchmaking and watch retailing industries, decades ahead of their time. From this period of change emerged an enduring partnership between The Hour Glass and Rolex.

THE ORIGINS OF AN ICONIC PARTNERSHIP

In 1950, the Borneo Company Ltd, an English company with their headquarters in London was selected as sole agent for Rolex for British Malaya and acted on behalf of the brand to appoint local retailers in Singapore, Malaya and Borneo to represent the Swiss brand. Of the original retailers selected, only the legacy of Mr Tay Thuan Khee lives on. Mr Tay, a Chinese immigrant who had arrived on Singapore shores from Shantou, Guangdong founded Lee Chay & Co in 1946, with a boutique on North Bridge Road.

A year after the appointment, Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex, made his maiden trip to the Far East to meet with his new partners. This seminal visit confirmed his long-held suspicions that the region was a hotbed for watch collecting.

Thus began a seven-decade long family tradition that his descendants – Dr Henry Tay and Michael Tay of The Hour Glass continues to uphold.

Sustaining the Relationship through Friendship

“After André Heiniger took over, he would travel to Singapore with his wife Odette every year. He seemed to like horses, and so on one of his visits, I had organised with Eddie Barker, Singapore’s first Law Minister and then Chairman of the Singapore Turf Club, for us to occupy the Chairman’s box at the Turf Club. None of the horses we backed won, but all of us had a grand time that night.”

~Dr Henry Tay, Executive Chairman of The Hour Glass

André Heiniger visited Singapore in 1953 and eventually took over the reins of Rolex a decade later.

Expansion throughout The Asia-Pacific

From the moment The Hour Glass was established in 1979, Rolex was a foundational partner at The Hour Glass’ new boutique in Lucky Plaza Shopping Centre on Orchard Road – then deemed the pinnacle of luxury shopping in Singapore. Buoyed by an enthusiastic international watch collecting community, The Hour Glass looked abroad, opening Plaza Imbi in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1980, Marina Mirage in the Gold Coast, Australia in 1988 and Peninsula Plaza in Bangkok, Thailand in 1994.

 

More recently, in 2020, The Hour Glass were appointed as an authorised retailer and official Rolex service centre in Auckland, New Zealand.

Building On Seven Decades of Partnership

The opening of the Sydney Rolex prestige boutique marked the latest chapter of strategic partnerships for Rolex and The Hour Glass. Sited in a heritage grade building at the crossroads of Sydney’s busiest shopping intersection, this 450 square metre boutique is arguably the jewel in The Hour Glass’ Rolex crown. This Rolex boutique is a testament to the robust and enduring partnership the two companies have built over 70 years of watchmaking and watch retailing expertise and is a mark of even deeper ties that are to come.

Dr Henry Tay, Jean Frederic Dufour, Mr Michael Tay at the opening of the Rolex Sydney prestige boutique

A Joint Commitment to Excellence

Underlying this longstanding partnership is the mutual commitment to pursuing excellence. This dedication established by Dr Henry Tay is sustained at The Hour Glass today by Mr Michael Tay. Our partnership continues to bring together the best of Rolex watchmaking, under the leadership of Mr Jean Frédéric Dufour, with the watch retailing expertise of The Hour Glass. 

 

“The Hour Glass and Rolex share many similar values and beliefs. Our joint commitment to pursue a culture of excellence in our respective companies form the core foundation for the partnership we have developed together. As we have progressed through the decades, we are humbled by how this relationship continues to strongly, and positively, evolve. This only serves to reinforce our shared mission to uphold the unrivalled reputation a Rolex watch has for quality.”

~ Mr Michael Tay, Managing Director of The Hour Glass

ROLEX AT THE HOUR GLASS

At The Hour Glass, we are proud to be part of the worldwide network of Official Rolex Retailers, a guarantee that every Rolex watch sold is genuine and authentic.

 

At our dedicated Rolex boutiques and our Rolex showrooms across Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand, The Hour Glass offers unprecedented access to the Rolex experience in Asia Pacific. Our team of highly knowledgeable watch specialists are poised and ready to help you choose your next superlative timepiece.

We’re here to help


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