Clocking in: David Adjaye, Studio Wieki Somers and Daniel Arsham ponder time

Singapore’s The Hour Glass is more than just another watch boutique in a city that’s obsessed by all things horological as its timely exhibition (helmed by Sir David Adjaye) shows

Beetle clock.
Beetle Clock, 2019, by Studio Wieki Somers, in gilded 3D printed aluminium. Courtesy of The Hour Glass
(Image credit: Mathijs Labadie)

Forty years on from opening its first store, The Hour Glass business has expanded across Southeast Asia to Japan and Australia but more than that, the Singapore watch emporium has had an influence on the region’s tastes and buying habits that few stores could match.

The Hour Glass was an early champion of independent watchmakers such as Urwerk and de Bethune and became the first port of call for both collectors and emerging brands – too many to list, but NOMOS Glashütte and MB&F are just two that have made their debut in Singapore at The Hour Glass.

It’s an eclectic mix, with Daniel Arsham re-interpreting the hourglass and Nendo’s Oki Sato showing a cuboid monolithic clock

To mark the anniversary (and there’s no business more obsessed by them than the watch industry), Michael Tay, the group MD, worked with Sir David Adjaye and the watch auctioneer Aurel Bacs to put together a horological exhibition, ‘Then, Now and Beyond’.

Daniel Arsham, Marc Newson, Nendo, and Studio Wieki Somers have all created works for the exhibition which will be shown alongside specially commissioned watches from Audemars Piguet, Chopard, De Bethune, Franck Muller, MB&F, NOMOS Glashütte, Sinn, TAG Heuer, Urwerk and Ulysse Nardin.

Daniel arsham hour glass.

Hourglass, 2019, by Daniel Arsham, in bronze.

(Image credit: Daniel Arsham, Courtesy of The Hour Glass)

It’s an eclectic mix, with Daniel Arsham re-interpreting the hourglass and Nendo’s Oki Sato showing a cuboid monolithic clock. Wallpaper* Handmade collaborators, Studio Wieki Somers, have produced the ‘Beetle Clock’, a proxy for the global decline in insect numbers and species.

Marc Newson, whose history in watch design goes back to the Nineties, has produced a thoroughly modern take on the klepsydra, the water-clock idea that dates back to the earliest known civilisations.

Milan-based design studio JoAnn Tan Studio, who specialise in window displays, installations, scenography and set design, were brought in to create a look and feel for the exhibition which will be at The Hour Glass’ Napoleonic-themed Malmaison concept store on Singapore’s Orchard Road in Singapore until the end of February

Aluminium and silver-plated nanoballs.

Klepsydra, 2019, by Marc Newson, in aluminium and silver-plated nanoballs. Courtesy of The Hour Glass

(Image credit: Marc Newson, Courtesy of The Hour Glass)


James Gurney has written on watches for over 25 years, founding QP Magazine in 2003, the UK’s first home-grown watch title. In 2009, he initiated SalonQP, one of the first watch fairs to focus on the end-consumer, and is regarded as a leading horological voice contributing to news and magazine titles across the globe.