This 4th edition of Dubai Watch Week was made possible thanks to the initiative of the Seddiqi family, influential Dubai-based retailer and distributor. This year the show took on a new four-day format during which collectors, brands and journalists could discover, listen and learn without any pressure or time constraints. Explanations.
We could be led to believe that Dubai Watch Week (DWW) may be complementary to Baselworld or to the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH – International Fine Watchmaking Exhibition) now known as Watches & Wonders. Not on your life! The Seddiqi came to the same conclusion as that which Alain-Dominique Perrin, head of Cartier at the time, made when he created SIHH about a quarter of a century ago. Starting out from the premise that customers, i.e. the buyers, were “ill-treated”, the idea was based on organizing a show instead of a fair in a limited space, offering real service, comfort and catering facilities: three concepts totally non-existent in Basel.
The DWW idea was to go even further by positioning itself as a major exhibition which would centre stage watchmakers’ culture, heritage and savoir-faire. After all, if we don’t improve our knowledge and if we don’t learn anything to do with “watchmaking” in a show devoted to the subject, then what purpose does it serve?
The ten must-not-miss moments during DWW:
1. Attending Horological Forum debates led by influential industry personalities such as Adam Craniotes, Red Bar Group founder and editor-in-chief of Revolution magazine, Lucien Vouillamoz, visionary behind HYT, Gary Getz, moderator and great collector, as well as the legendary Shame On Wrist who, in order to keep his identity secret, intervened via a Skype conversation projected on the big screen.
2. Listening to Mohammed Seddiqi lay out the issue of high demand for pieces like Patek Philippe’s Nautilus 5711 and extremely limited quotas. Nowadays,irrespective of the amount of money you may have at hand, if you’re not on the waitlist, well, forget it. There’s also a wishlist if you want to be included on the waitlist. So… good luck with that!
3. Attending the conference presented by Christie’s which detailed the state of play of the current vintage market: 55% of watches sold at auctions are Patek Philippe, closely followed by Rolex. The remaining infinitesimal fraction is made up of all the other brands. And, the reason for this: the management, production and development constancy of these brands.
4. Taking in Creative Hub’s presentations such as the one given by DeBethune and Jorg Hysek for Dream Watch 6 and Dior’s one on making the Grand Bal collection, a kind of journey through miniature haute couture.
5. Signing up for a masterclass: the one led by Florian and Antoine Preziuso to learn how to assemble and dismantle a movement or the one organized by Bovet proposing dial engraving initiation. All these sessions were highly limited in numbers and highly sought after.
6.Intercepting Jean-Claude Biver as he was dedicating his new book whilst around a hundred people were waiting their turn patiently under the wintry Middle-Eastern breeze.
7. Taking time out to savour the delectable menu concocted by Cipriani, DWW’s official partner, in their ephemeral restaurant, set up especially for the occasion.
8. Heading over to the WatchBox pop-up to discuss with the founder of this platform, leader in second-hand watch purchasing, reselling and trading, and in which the Seddiqi family holds shares.
9. Visiting the little houses built by Chopard to present its new Alpine Eagle and by Rolex for its Submariner retrospective, organized like a sort of travelling exhibit (or roadshow) and visually interesting.
10. And, of course, discovering Breitling, MB&F, Jacob & Co., Trilobe, Hublot and Girard-Perregaux’s novelties as well as the thirty-seven other brands showcasing at DWW which were not all necessarily distributed by Seddiqi.
In short, the Seddiqi family had got it all right, seeing as they had been the first “victims” concerned by show- related issues. And if we were to name but three reasons as to why this new format is perfect: the pleasant weather combined with Dubai’s excellent service, proximity which makes professional appointments as well as cocktails much easier and offers the opportunity to continue working in a relaxed atmosphere, and the organization of panels, training sessions and brands’ stands thanks to which you can learn more in one day than five days spent in other fairs. I’ll say no more…!
The original article can be read in the latest issue of The Watches Magazine.