Kee Hing Hung, originally a small trading firm in Chinatown, eventually grew and has blossomed into one of the stalwarts of Singapore’s watch trade. Founded by the late How Ting Hai in the 1960s, the watch retailer is one of the few standalone Rolex boutiques in the city state and remains trusted by its wide pool of clientele, which includes both local and overseas customers.
Kee Hing Hung
In the early 1960s, How Ting Hai worked hard as a carpenter and through his industry, he managed to save up enough money establish Kee Hing Hung, a small-scaled trading firm along Old Park Road in Chinatown. The company was housed in a traditional shophouse, and business thrived through How’s dedication and gumption. His friends introduced How to the world of watches, leading to his interest in the watch import and export business growing. Sensing a potential, the astute businessman established a watch wholesale arm for Kee Hing Hung, and built a flourishing business from selling watches destined for overseas markets.
THE NEW CHAPTER
In 1970, Kee Hing Hung relocated to People’s Park Complex, a newly-built shopping complex that was the largest mall in Singapore then. Located along Eu Tong Sen Street, the mall was merely a stone’s throw away from Kee Hing Hung’s original location at Old Park Road. Following the move to People’s Park Complex, Kee Hing Hung also transformed into a full-fledged watch and jewellery retailer housed in a 300sqft shop space. Staffed by four sales personnel, the boutique was stocked with various brands and retailed gold jewellery. In October the same year, Kee Hing Hung hosted its grand opening ceremony, which was attended by both local and overseas guests. Many were impressed by what they witnessed at the boutique and subsequently became long-term clients.
BUILDING A FOUNDATION
How believed in the importance of customer service from the onset. He once said: “The hallmark of Kee Hing Hung lies in our dedication to deliver the widest selection and unparalleled service from our passionate and friendly staff with years of experience in the field. Our focus is, and will always be, to gain and maintain the trust and satisfaction of our patrons.” During the time when he helmed the company, he walked the talk and led by example, often going beyond the call of duty for his customers. This dedication to providing impeccable service remains a core value for Kee Hing Hung, even up till today.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
As a young boy, Max How—the youngest son of the founder of Kee Hing Hung—often helped out at the boutique after school. Because of an early exposure to the world of watches, he developed an interest in the business, and eventually joined Kee Hing Hung in 1984. Working alongside How, he learnt the ropes from his father, honed his business sense and improved his watch knowledge dramatically.
“Back then, the customers purchased the watches without much prior knowledge and only wanted reliable timepieces,” Max said, adding that brand information was not readily available as compared to today. “The consumers’ needs and demands were different too.”
Under Max’s leadership, Kee Hing Hung prospered and in 2001, it established itself as one of the first few standalone Rolex boutiques in Singapore. Then in 2015, it expanded its presence in People’s Park Complex by opening a standalone Tudor boutique located directly opposite the Rolex store.
As Kee Hing Hung celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020, Max continues the How family tradition by inducting his elder son, Tron, into the business. “I hope that with a fresh pair of eyes, he’ll be able to innovate and develop the company as we cater to new customer demographics,” says Max, who, like his father, will stay on to groom and mentor Tron.
With fast evolving trends and buying patterns, fresh perspectives are indeed required to bring Kee Hing Hung to greater heights. While Tron is excited about joining the company and contributing to its sustained success, he is aware of the challenges ahead. “There is a need to be ‘always-on’ now with a digital presence being part and parcel of the overall business,” he says, noting that Kee Hing Hung’s staff members must keep their watch and product knowledge up-to-date at all times.
KEE HING HUNG TODAY
Till this day, Kee Hing Hung remains an Official Rolex Retailer and is proud to be part of this close-knit global network of retailers. That the storied watch retailer has been such close partners with Rolex for the last few decades underlines the immense trust the How family has in the quality of the timepieces by the Genevan watchmaker. Similarly, Rolex also believes in Kee Hing Hung’s philosophy centred on founder How Ting Hai’s principle of top-notch customer service. Today, customers can view and enjoy a wide selection of Rolex timepieces in a luxurious and spacious environment decorated in the watchmaker’s most contemporary liveries. Kee Hing Hung is also where customers can be assured that its well-trained staff are able to effectively propagate the products, story and values of the brand.
“The hallmark of Kee Hing Hung lies in our dedication to deliver the widest selection and unparalleled service from our passionate and friendly staff with years of experience in the field. Our focus is, and will always be, to gain and maintain the trust and satisfaction of our patrons.”
The late Mr How Ting Hai, founder of Kee Hing Hung