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Bangkok Post
Bangkok Post

He knows what  time it is

Mr Narun says watches not only offer a function, but also serve as investments, assets and collectable items.

In the past, wristwatches were the go-to item to tell time.

Though most people now own smartphones, Narun Thamavaranukup, managing director of PMT The Hour Glass Co, a distributor of imported watches, remains confident that high-end watches will continue to register steady demand.


For Mr Narun, watches not only offer a function, but also serve as investments, assets and collectable items.

"The demand for watches in Thailand continues to grow every year. We can sustain our watch business for a decade without engaging in any marketing activities," he said with an enthusiastic grin.

During the three pandemic years, people found themselves with more time on their hands, which fuelled interest in watches, even among the younger generation, said Mr Narun.

Mr Narun, right, says that watches serve not only a functional purpose but also as investments, assets, and collectable items.

The market is constantly evolving, as younger buyers are developing an interest in watches at an earlier age, he said. Buyers aged 25-35, unlike those in their 40s and 50s in the past, have emerged as the fastest-growing segment for high-end watches, said Mr Narun.

"Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the demand for watches was 3.2 times higher than our supply," he said.

"During 2021 and 2022, despite a product shortage, demand surged by 7 times and 12.6 times, respectively. The watch industry is full of opportunities."

According to the Customs Department, imports of Swiss watches posted a record high of 13 billion baht in value last year, up from 9.55 billion in 2019.


In 2007, Mr Narun visited the Basel Watch Fair in Switzerland. He met Michael Tay, the group managing director of luxury watch retailer The Hour Glass.

The Hour Glass operates multi-brand and standalone boutiques across Asia-Pacific, in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia. The brands it carries include Rolex, Hublot, Tudor, Omega, Roger Dubuis, Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux.

"We both come from families deeply involved in the speciality watch business. We bonded over our mutual passion for watches, as each of us was already leading own family enterprises in speciality watch retail," said Mr Narun.

"We took 12 months to gain confidence in each other and decided to establish a business together to build the watch collecting culture in Thailand."

The joint venture PMT The Hour Glass was established on April 1, 2008.

PMT initially operated two boutiques, but it has expanded to 15 outlets across four cities in Thailand and Vietnam.

By the end of this year, PMT aims to have 20 boutiques in Thailand and Vietnam, with five new branches planned for Vietnam this year.

Revenue surpassed 6 billion baht for the latest financial year, ending in March 2023, a 12-fold increase from the early days, he said. Employment has expanded from 20 workers to more than 250 dedicated employees, said Mr Narun.


PMT offers between 15-20 watch brands, catering to a diverse range of clients. Its collection includes established houses such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Hublot and Tudor, as well as contemporary artisanal watchmakers like F.P.Journe, MB&F, Urwerk, Akrivia and DE Bethune.

"We take great pride in managing Patek Philippe's flagship boutique at Iconsiam and being a leading Rolex retailer in Thailand," he said.

"We operate the Rolex Central Embassy Bangkok boutique and four Rolex showrooms in Bangkok and Phuket. We are the exclusive partner of Hublot in Southeast Asia."

The Hublot boutiques at Siam Paragon and Central Embassy ranked in the top 10 best-performing shops globally in 2022, said Mr Narun.

PMT The Hour Glass was entrusted to open the first Tudor boutique utilising its latest concept in Thailand, with plans for a second by the end of the year.

"PMT has gained the trust of well-known watch brands. As enthusiasts, we dedicate time to visiting watch factories, speaking with watch collectors and brand owners, and exploring the supply chain. This is why we can identify the potential of a brand and recognise the next rising stars in the industry," he said.

The success of each watch brand under PMT in the Thai market can be attributed to the company's emphasis on quality, innovation, shared vision and long-term brand value, said Mr Narun.

PMT prioritises enhancing the watch-buying experience, he said. The company introduced The Hour Glass's proprietary customer experience management system to gain a better understanding of each client and personalise the customer experience.


PMT recently entered the Vietnam market with two boutiques in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

"The highly sophisticated market in which we operate cannot be disrupted by smartwatches. We sell the history, story and innovation behind watch brands," said Mr Narun.

"Even during the challenging period of the pandemic, our sales continued to grow. We have a clear and unwavering mission to nurture a culture of collecting watches, even in down markets. By doing so, we can ignite a lasting passion for watches. We also focus on marketing watch brands that have a long-term vision to build brand value."

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