13 October 2020


The Hour Glass

I was able to have a bit of a break recently, away from work and day-to-day routine at home. For October, I had originally allocated two weeks of leave with the intention of going home to visit the family in Perth. However, with the interstate borders remaining closed for the forseeable future, I took the opportunity to put together a last-minute plan to do some solo-travelling in Brisbane.

The intention behind the trip was well defined, which was to have a much-needed change in scenery; however the itinerary for the trip was left largely undefined, outside of the core essentials such as transport, accommodation etc.

In fact, I found myself drafting up a To-do list during the spare hour I had while on the plane travelling from Gladstone to Brisbane.

The end result created looked something like this:

  • Absurd obsession - search out for specialty coffee cafes, drink pourover coffee.
  • Connection - link up with old friends.
  • Epicurean - new food experiences (Japanese omakase, whiskey bar etc).
  • Right brain - wander around art museums.
  • Run the city - by foot.
  • Stretching the possibilities - Tudor @ The Hour Glass.
  • Burning existential questions - write, reflect.

It was going to be a real holiday, a temporary departure from routine and normal, so the timetable was deliberately minimalist by design.

However, I could not let myself go completely completely, so I snuck in a personal challenge for me to step up to, at some point during the 5 days I had in Brisbane. Things get serious only once you jot them down on paper, so I was committed.

"Stretching the possibilities - Tudor @ The Hour Glass"

First things first. Some context. What is Tudor? A Swiss based luxury watch manufacturer. What is this Hour Glass? A luxury watch boutique that specialises not only in Tudor, but also the other big Swiss brands such as Rolex, Patek Phillipe and more (see the first photo on this blog).

How is this even a personal challenge?

Long story, but the essence of it goes back to my previous post Mini Retirements where I had to confront questions like:

What do you want?
How do you know this is what you want?
How can you be so sure if you have not tried?

The subject matter itself, in this case going after luxury wristwatches is the idealism I had defined for myself, is not really important. But at the core of it lies this principle: make a personal commitment towards continually formulating a better picture of who you want to be, what you want to do and what you want to have.

. . .

So, the day to take a step outside of my comfort zone eventually arrived. It was a Wednesday, 7 October 2020. I remember waking up at around 5:30 AM that day, taking time to get ready, putting on clothes that I hoped would be deemed appropriate enough for a place like The Hour Glass.

'Who the hell are you to be going into a place like this?', whispered a terrible voice from the darker recesses of my mind.

Never mind all of that. It was a beautiful, warm and clear sunny day in the big city, and I was going to make the most of it.

I left the Airbnb and headed into the city by foot, in search of good coffee (part of my checklist, remember?) and a nice breakfast.

Guatemalan single origin pourover by V60. Smelt like honey, tasted like fruits. Is this even coffee?? (Brisbane, 2020)

Well satiated and internal demons silenced, I started to make my way to the target destination on Edward St. The shopfront turned out to be... intimidating to say the least. Not only that, there was a signpost blocking the front door as I was trying to make my way in.

In plain font, it bluntly made the point that, due to COVID restrictions, special reservations were required to even enter the boutique.

'Well, at least I tried!', re-assuring myself, then promptly about faced and made my way past The Hour Glass.

Storefront of The Hour Glass Brisbane

I did not end up making it very far, perhaps 20m further down the road, and then I stopped. I am not sure what made me stop, as far as I know the deed was done and the dream vanished, it was time to move on. But thankfully, I did stop and I started walking back to that insidious signpost that stopped me dead in my tracks.

This time around, maybe I had stood there 1.5 seconds more than I had in the first attempt, but a store attendant started to approach the front door and headed towards my direction. 'Well, it is too late to back out now, son'.

The store attendant started to greet me and then asked, 'Would like to have a look inside?'. I was in!

And this was the initiation of what turned out to be a great 1.5 hour conversation with a really passionate and well-informed sales associate.

I requested for the watches I had come to see, the Tudor Black Bay and Pelagos, and got to feel and experience what it would actually be like . This is the crux. Countless hours of internet research, books and the internet can only take you so far. Experiencing is the real deal.

Then the realm of possibilities started expanding, as I was guided through a range of other watches I had never really considered.


Eventually, the time to leave the store arrived. The exit was, thankfully, not as eventful as the entrance, and for the rest of the day, I was walking on clouds and filled to the brim with gratitude. A wealth of lessons learnt for nothing spent, except for questions asked.

What do you want?
How do you know this is what you want?
How can you be so sure if you have not tried?

“ I tried to get John interested in that sound once but it was hopeless. All he heard was noise and all he saw was the machine and me with greasy tools in my hands, nothing else. That didn't work... He isn't so interested in what things mean as in what they are. ” - Robert Pirsig