The Hour Glass Company: The March of Time

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Year Completed



The Hour Glass (“THG”) was a multi-brand luxury watch retailer founded in 1979 by husband and wife, Henry and Jannie Tay. The store was one-of-a-kind during its time, positioning luxury watches as upmarket collectors’ items or for investments. This strategy proved to be a resounding success. During Jannie Tay’s time from 1979-2004 at the helm of THG, the company ventured into overseas expansion of the business, and also bought into other businesses, such as perfume and jewellery, luxury watchmaking and distribution, and Milano’s Pizza. In 2005, Michael Tay, the son of Henry and Jannie Tay, took over as Executive Director and launched THG’s two-pronged approach to promote the culture and history of watchmaking, as well as attract new segments of watch buyers through creative and innovative marketing.

With its new patisserie store Ladurée opening in April 2013, Michael Tay pondered what THG’s next move would be to stay ahead of the game. How should the lessons learned over the company’s history of over thirty years influence its future growth strategy in the ever-evolving economic environment?

This case can be used in undergraduate, graduate and executive education classes to teach corporate strategy concepts considering the external environment, vertical integration and diversification.


The Hour Glass, luxury retail, Singapore, Asia, vertical integration, diversification


Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Strategic Management Policy

Data Source

Published Sources


Luxury Retail

Temporal Coverage


Education Level

Executive Education; Postgraduate; Undergraduate


Singapore Management University

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