Industrial designers imbue a watch retailer’s anniversary showcase with cross-disciplinary charm.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Oki Sato, the prolific Canada-born Japanese founder of design studio Nendo, credits a certain outsider status for sparking his early creativity. On moving to Tokyo at the age of 10, the famed industrial designer once said: “Suddenly, I was enjoying so many things that Japanese kids would find normal.” It was about seeing things differently.

Sato’s work, along with that of other renowned designers such as Marc Newson and Daniel Arsham, is displayed in The Hour Glass’ ongoing 40th-anniversary exhibition – Then Now Beyond. Says The Hour Glass’ group MD Michael Tay: “We didn’t want to mark our anniversary with just a collection of special-edition watches.”

The showcase of design objects features striking creations such as Nendo’s Variations of Time (pictured), featuring acrylic hourglasses with carved-out organic cavities. The different angles of the chambers and shapes of the passages cause the same amount of sand to pass through at different rates, challenging perceptions of how time flows. Inspired by an ancient instrument that measures time with the flow of water, Marc Newson created the Klepsydra, using millions of nano-balls in place of water. Infinitely more arresting, we must say, than just another limited-edition timepiece.