If you’re old enough, you’ll remember Singapore actually had a thriving watch scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Here are four facts you probably didn’t know about our watch industry.
We Had A Well Established Watch Retail Hub
Our position as an important free port meant a continuous stream of goods and entrepreneurs. Watch shops sprung up which re-exported timepieces to regional countries like Thailand and Indonesia. Sailors, tourists and the well-heeled in the region flocked to Singapore to purchase timepieces.
We Were The Top Seller Of Omega Watches Worldwide
In an interview for the 80th anniversary coffee table book of the Singapore Clock and Watch Trade Association (SCWTA), Sincere Watch founder Tay Boo Jiang revealed Singapore was the No.1 seller of Omega watches globally in 1963. A large part of the reason was probably due to the fact that the Vietnam War was in full swing then and Singapore was supplying massive goods to the American forces engaged in battle there. Off-duty American soldiers would also visit when on Rest and Recreation leave from 1966 onwards.
We Were A Movement Assembly Centre
In the beginning, merchants would import movements and cases separately, assembling them here before they were shipped off to be sold as complete watches. Local distributor Crystal Time used to have its own factory assembling movements and watches from imported components and these watches were then sold to countries like Hong Kong, Indonesia, as well as the domestic market. At the behest of then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, Japan’s Seiko opened a factory here in 1976, manufacturing watch movements for export. The factory is still in operation today.