The watch community has a lot to thank Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons for. Established in 1950 and representing some 60 brands at its 51 points of sale, the Middle East’s largest luxury watch retailer was behind the launch of Dubai Watch Week back in 2015 in a format that is still going strong – even as others are questioning the relevance of watch fairs. For the fourth edition of what is now a biennial event, no fewer than 44 brands have travelled to the Emirate to take part in the fair whose purpose isn’t to sell watches, but to celebrate the culture of time measurement and educate the general public on the values of fine watchmaking.
Indeed, the event’s educational aims override the commercial implications of its end-of-year scheduling as brands throw themselves into a fair designed to “educate the public on the skills and knowledge of mechanical watchmaking, and raise awareness of some of the challenges facing the industry.” It’s worth remembering that the United Arab Emirates represents an important market for Swiss watch exports, ranking tenth in 2018 with shipments worth CHF 910 million (+1.7%). This figure has increased by an enviable 6.1% over the first nine months of the year: that’s twice the increase in exports overall. If the region continues to progress at this rate, it should hold onto its tenth place, ahead of South Korea.
A first for Rolex
All the big names are lined up, from heavyweights such as Bulgari, IWC, Ulysse Nardin and Vacheron Constantin to the independents such as Bovet, De Bethune, Greubel Forsey and H. Moser & Cie., not forgetting the likes of MB&F, Singer Reimagined, Fiona Krüger and Antoine Preziuso, among others. Making their debut this year are Chopard (with its new Alpine Eagle collection), Grand Seiko, Tudor and Rolex. The latter is making its first appearance at a watchmaking event in the Middle East, and it’s doing so in style with an exhibition dedicated to the Oyster Perpetual Submariner, from its origins as a dive watch introduced in 1953. Auctioneer Christie’s is present with its experts. WatchBox also brings its knowledge of the thriving pre-owned market.
Dubai Watch Week has highlighted the importance of creating a platform where everyone can share knowledge.
The week’s packed calendar includes masterclasses on watchmaking and the métiers d’art, a creative hub, and a horology forum of panels and talks. Then there are, of course, the brand booths and exhibitions, which include the winning timepieces from the recent Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. As Philippe Dufour, who hasn’t missed a Dubai Watch Week, rightly observes, “Dubai Watch Week has highlighted the importance of creating a platform where everyone can share knowledge.” With the many opportunities it provides to admire and talk about watches, and importantly to meet the people who make them, Dubai Watch Week confirms its raison d’être to nurture an appreciation of beautiful timepieces.