Father time

Father time
It was not always smooth sailing for Mr Jeremy Lim when he joined the family business, but he has since learnt the ropes and seen the business grow from strength to strength.

When Jeremy Lim was eight years old, he bugged his parents, who ran retail store Cortina Watch at the former Colombo Court shopping centre, to buy him a Seiko watch.

Mr Lim, now 43, recalls those mass market Japanese timepieces being all the rage back then, and says that he had to have one.

"I bugged them and finally, my parents bought it for me lah, but I don't know where it is now," he says with a laugh.

You could say that his life is inseparable from the watch trade. Now chief operating officer of the family business - a leading luxury watch retailer here - he is also a major industry figure as president of the Singapore Clock and Watch Trade Association since 2012.

His old Seiko watch has since been swapped for a more luxurious Patek Philippe Aquanaut, one which comes with a cool five-figure price tag.

However there are no airs about Mr Lim when we meet for our interview at Cortina's offices at Ngee Ann City.

In fact, the affable man, who jokes that he has a "prune face" and has a tendency to be "fierce looking", tells Life! of his personal collection of 50 to 60 timepieces: "Eh, not all of them are expensive watches, you know. I still have some models of Seiko and funny watches you've never heard of.

"I also have fake watches because you need to know why fake watches are acceptable in the market."

Today, Cortina Watch, which was founded by Mr Lim's father Anthony and three other partners in 1972, is a household name in the luxury watch retail and distribution industry in Asia.

The group, which was publicly listed in 2002, carries more than 50 internationally renowned brands such as Concord, Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Patek Philippe and Rolex. The prices of these timepieces can range from the low thousands to millions of dollars.

It operates 27 retail outlets in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia.

It also has the reputation of being one of the top three luxury watch retailers in Singapore, along with Sincere Watch and The Hour Glass.

The youngest of three siblings, Mr Lim was an auditor who joined the family business in 2000.

As the company's COO, he heads the regional retail operations spanning Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, where he oversees the planning and execution of retail projects and the management of retail inventory.

His brother, Raymond, 54, has been with the group since 1980 and is the deputy chief executive officer of Cortina Watch, managing the expansion of Cortina Holdings into overseas markets.

Older sister Sharon, in her 40s, is a director with Cortina Watch and executive director of Pacific Time, a subsidiary company that oversees distribution in South-east Asia for a number of watch brands.

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