ubai Watch Week seems to lead the way towards a possible future for watch fairs in an age where everyone is thinking about new formats for conveying watches to professional and public audiences. Founded in 2015 by leading UAE retailer Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons (which operates 50 locations in the country), the event goes way beyond a traditional fair: from the very start, its ambition was to become a global platform dedicated to the preservation of watchmaking culture and heritage by creating one of the largest non-commercial events for the international watch community.
The formula is working and embraces all aspects and segments of contemporary watchmaking: Rolex will be participating for the first time and pre-owned and vintage, two booming segments, are also integrated in the concept with the participation of WatchBox and Christie’s. The event is the perfect place to reflect on the future of the watch industry, free for a week from the pressure of “immediate” sales.
Dubai Watch Week will allow participants to attend a variety of panels on burning questions for the watch world. This year, the Horology Forum will focus on bridging creative communities and as such will bring together over 40 industry giants from varying professions. Speakers will range from watch curators, pioneers, brands, artists and collectors to foster an exchange of their insights and perspective in a series of panel discussions dedicated to the transfiguration of horology under the theme ‘Innovation and Technology’. Among the speakers are personalities such as Jean-Claude Biver, Aldis Hodge, Danny Govberg, and Philippe Dufour.
“This year’s Horology Forum will bridge different communities and connect industry visionaries through a series of inspiring topics, designed to pay homage to watchmaking culture and heritage. We are pleased to host key global minds – and look forward to fostering a series of fascinating conversations, which will centre on this year’s theme of ‘Innovation and Technology,” said Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, Director General of Dubai Watch Week. We caught up with her just as the fair was getting to know what to expect in Dubai on November 20-24.
- An interview with Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, Director General of Dubai Watch Week.
Europa Star: In a rapidly evolving watch industry, what will be your main goal for the fair this year?
Hind Seddiqi: With this year’s edition of Dubai Watch Week, we are not only building on the knowledge of the general public to the watch industry, we’re also adding value for seasoned watch enthusiasts by giving them access to a more exclusive level of detail through programmes such as the masterclasses and the Creative Hub. Our main goal is to provide visitors with a chance to enhance their understanding of the watch industry by introducing them to platforms such as the Horology Forum, which provides an immersive learning experience through the framework of free-flowing debate
Which Dubai Watch Week concepts will stay unchanged from the last edition and which will be new this year?
Dubai Watch Week celebrates skill, innovation, and craftsmanship in watchmaking and is the only event of its kind in the region. For the 2019 edition, the region’s watch aficionados will enjoy the return of the popular Horology Forum and the Creative Hub that will promote dialogue and conversations designed to foster creativity, champion innovation and celebrate the industry. This year’s event will also see the return of the Auction Room by Christie’s which will be showcasing rare timepieces and sharing invaluable knowledge of the world of auctions. At the same time, the watchmaking and watchcraft masterclasses will bring together the industry’s most respected experts to teach the art of assembling timepieces.
In terms of new concepts, the Middle East will for the first time in the region see the participation of the world’s leading luxury watch brand, Rolex, with a dedicated exhibition exploring the universe of the Oyster Perpetual Submariner. Chopard will also have a dedicated space and, for the first time, be present in a private exhibition area dedicated to its latest watch collection launched on October 1: the Alpine Eagle. In addition, some new exhibitors this year will help bring the value and appeal of fine watchmaking to life in dynamic and interactive ways, such as WatchBox, the world’s leading platform for the buying, selling, and trading of pre-owned luxury watches. Their booth and on-site production studio will emphasize the significance of investing in timepieces and how this space is being digitally transformed.
What is the target audience of the fair: professionals, journalists, aficionados or some other group?
With the concept of bridging communities overtaking this year’s edition of Dubai Watch Week the event does not have a specific target, as it caters not just to professionals, journalists and aficionados but to anyone who is even slightly curious about horology. As the fair is admission-free, everyone is welcome to attend the event. Dubai Watch Week is a unique educational and cultural platform where new and old generations of watch enthusiasts, industry legends and anyone in the world who simply appreciates good craftsmanship can come along to network and exchange ideas.
For the first time, Rolex will be part of the exhibition. Can you tell us more about it?
We are immensely proud to announce the inaugural participation of luxury Swiss timepiece brand, Rolex, at the upcoming Dubai Watch Week. This year’s edition will mark Rolex’s first participation in a watchmaking event in the Middle East. The leading watch brand will host a dedicated exhibition exploring the universe of the Oyster Perpetual Submariner. Through panels and interactive displays, the Oyster Perpetual Submariner exhibition tells the story of how the celebrated divers’ watch evolved over the years. Visitors will also discover how, over time, the Submariner became an emblematic watch on land as well as at sea. Guests will also have access to a unique collection of vintage Rolex timepieces curated especially for Dubai Watch Week by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons.
What will be the highlights of the 2019 fair?
We have some fantastic speakers at the Horology Forum this year. Jean-Claude Biver, marketing visionary and industry titan, Aldis Hodge – Hollywood actor and horologist, Mishal Kanoo – futurist and strategist, and Aline Sylla-Walbaum - Global Managing Director Luxury with Christie’s. In addition, there will be several Dubai edition launches in association with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and their brands, so we are also expecting avid watch collectors who form a key segment of our visitor demographic.
Could you share your plans for the future: a fair in 2020, the Horology Forum in London, any other event?
As Dubai Watch Week is now a biennial event, the next edition will take place in 2021. As for the Horology Forum, Dubai Watch Week will continue with its international roadshow. In 2018, the Horology Forum took place in London in partnership with Christie’s; the location for 2020 is yet to be decided. The Horology Forum, an original concept created by Dubai Watch Week, is designed to foster free-flowing conversation covering a broad spectrum of industry topics. In addition, we are committed to establishing the Emirate of Dubai as a global destination for training in the craft of fine watchmaking and horology, and the launch of Expo 2020 will set a precedent for the return of Dubai Watch Week after its two-year hiatus. We will also be focusing more on publishing evergreen content in both written and broadcast formats.