Young or old, novice or veteran, if you are a collector, Dubai Watch Week is for you. In the Middle East in general, and in the United Arab Emirates in particular, the more discerning a watch buyer becomes, the more likely they are to turn into a lifelong collector, or so hopes Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, organiser of what is the first event of its kind in the region. They aim to guide newcomers to the wonders of time measurement towards the highest spheres of horology. “Dubai Watch Week has no commercial ambitions,” commented Hind Seddiqi, Chief Marketing Officer of Seddiqi Holding, in her opening speech. “Its purpose is to enable anyone with an interest in watches to better understand why certain timepieces are truly works of art. We have hosted a number of events in the past aimed at familiarising people with fine watchmaking, but these were private gatherings. Through Dubai Watch Week, we have established an educational platform for the public.”
Inform and educate
The frequent comparison between the timepieces inside their vitrines and works of art could not have been more fitting, as this Dubai Watch Week is spread across several buildings in Gate Village, an enclave of art galleries inside the Dubai International Financial Center and a most striking setting for the watches on view. In accordance with the event’s ambition to inform and educate, the programme includes numerous discussion panels and masterclasses on the assembly of a mechanical movement, led by such luminaries as Peter Speake-Marin, Marco Lang from the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, and Mark Baas, head of development at astronomical watch specialist Chrisitaan van der Klaauw.
Further highlights include “conversations” where master watchmakers, the likes of Christophe Claret, Félix Baumgartner (Urwerk) and Stephen Forsey (Greubel Forsey), look back over their career and discuss their passion for watchmaking. Two outstanding exhibitions complete the programme: that of the 72 watches in competition for the next Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, and the ten “Rebels of Horology” that brings together Bovet, Cabestan, de Bethune, Greubel Forsey, H. Moser & Cie, Hautlence, Laurent Ferrier, MB&F, Moritz Grossmann and Urwerk.
The public in the region rarely, if ever, has the opportunity to meet professional watchmakers of this calibre.
An impressive panel
“The greatest challenge of the week was to put together the extraordinary panel of more than fifty personalities from the world of watchmaking, who lead our various events,” declared Melika Yazdjerdi, Director of Dubai Watch Week and Head of Corporate Communication at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. “We are especially honoured to welcome Philippe Dufour and Aurel Bacs, neither of whom needs any introduction, as well as Jean-Claude Biver, at the head of the LVMH watch brands, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht from Agenhor, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Co-President of Chopard, and Giulio Papi, creator of beautiful mechanical movements, most notably for Audemars Piguet, who was recently honoured with the Prix Gaïa. The public in the region rarely, if ever, has the opportunity to meet professional watchmakers of this calibre. In this respect, Dubai Watch Week satisfies a clearly articulated demand.”
That Ahmed Seddiqi & Son should have made learning and education the central theme of its first “week”, with an imposing line-up of independent watch brands, is doubtless to fulfil a need but also because it is easier to gather under the same roof watchmakers, who are more likely to have the necessary time, than the CEOs of the sector’s mastodons. For the time being at least, for who would turn down an invitation from Dubai and the region’s foremost retailer? Established in 1950, Ahmed Seddiqi & Son is at the head of 65 stores and carries a portfolio of more than 60 brands. This Watch Week should therefore also be seen as a show of appreciation by the Emirati firm towards the representatives of an industry on which its business relies. Such a demonstration didn’t go unnoticed by these independent brands, among them MB&F whose founder Max Büsser declared, with the utmost seriousness, “I would like to thank the organisers for creating a reserve for endangered species. Faced with the extreme industrialisation of watchmaking for a mass market, by financial diktat, we endeavour to preserve artisanal and creative watchmaking.” The three to four thousand visitors who are expected to attend Dubai Watch Week will doubtless understand the importance of these sanctuaries.