The Hour Glass celebrates 40th anniversary with unique takes on time

The Hour Glass celebrates 40th anniversary with unique takes on time

Exhibition at Malmaison by The Hour Glass in Singapore to end on 31 January 2020

Time is a funny thing. We tell it and then we beat it. It’s gone too soon and yet can’t come soon enough. It is precious and yet a waste. It’s now (this time) and yet then (next time). We can’t get enough of it but, sometimes, have too much of it on our hands.

It’s the one measurement that we can’t put a form to but, at a special exhibition celebrating its 40th anniversary, The Hour Glass has come as close as possible to make time something we can observe and marvel at. Then Now Beyond is a curated selection of commissioned objets d’art from four designers, who were selected by a committee comprising of British architect Sir David Adjaye OBE, international watch specialist Aurel Bacs and The Hour Glass’ Group Managing Director Michael Tay.

According to Tay, the idea of the exhibition came up two years ago when The Hour Glass was planning its 40th anniversary. “The thing that came to mind was the usual commemorative, limited edition watches – which we did – but we were also very conscious of was delivering something that is true to our mission of advancing watch culture. My passions are watches and contemporary art, so why not marry the two?” he explains.

For Tay, this exhibition extends the ideas that The Hour Glass has been perpetuating for the last decade, including Malmaison by The Hour Glass (where the exhibition is held), which reconceptualises the watch in the universe of authentic luxury. “Another project we did was to contextualise the watch in the realms of contemporary design, and I think all of these projects directed us to this moment, where instead of just a physical built environment to look at, we at introducing the watch into the cultural milieu of art and design.”

At the end of the day, Tay says, if we look back 500 years, pocket watches back then already incorporated different metiers, including engraving and enamelling. “Watches then were not just seen as objects to tell time – they were objects of beauty of prestige. So, by celebrating these contemporary designers, we hope to create a new narrative in watchmaking and in watchmaking arts. We hope to expand the audience, where, wearing watches will not just be viewed as another luxury object but a cultural counterpoint to everything that exists today.”

The four designers featured at Now Then Beyond are Daniel Arsham, Marc Newson, nendo and Studio Wieki Somers, all of whom came up highly unique approaches to time (see sidebar). “We told them one very simple thing: look, we don’t want you to create a watch. We want you to create an object of your desires,” Tay says. “Some made non-functioning objects like Arsham’s hour glass, while others made objects that tell time. What I really love is the nendo clock: it’s such a simple design and a really fresh take on a time-telling device, and it took someone from outside the watch industry to come up with it. It’s very poetic because, when the hands meet at 12, the cube is whole again. So, for literally two seconds a day, at midnight and at noon, perfection exists.”

Then Now Beyond is on at Malmaison by The Hour Glass until 31 January 2020

nendo’s a cuboid-shaped clock is sculpted from one singular form with two hands sliced from the structure. Meticulously orchestrated, the hands neatly overlap only twice a day, uniting the shape in its original appearance.

Marc Newson reinterprets the ancient measuring instrument and its principles first developed by the water clock. Handcrafted crystal forms the body of the two signature bulbs held within the Klepsydra, with each holding over 2.8 million metallic dusted nanoballs. Controlled by a complex mechanism, the nanoballs trickle between the two interconnected structures to provide accurate recordings of time.

Developing on from the sculptural hourglass design, Daniel Arsham recreates the hour glass with enduring bronze, in effect freezing time and inviting the viewer to consider the present moment.

Studio Wieki Somers explore the increasing destruction of insect habitats through urbanisation in Beetle Clock. Symbolizing the ticking of time for ecosystems, two beetles chase time around the age rings of a tree trunk, highlighting the importance of small creatures within the larger chain of effects.

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