The inaugural Dubai Watch Week came to a successful close last month (October) and plans are already in place for the next edition, assuring the event’s continuing success in the region.
The five-day exhibition and conference, the largest regional industry gathering dedicated to fine watchmaking, was organised by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, a leading retailer of luxury watches and jewellery in Dubai, with the support of Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and world-famous auction house Christie’s, among others.
The outstanding industry response to a regional call further emphasises the value of the Middle East, led by the United Arab Emirates, to the overall watch industry.
The UAE is among the top importers of luxury timepieces from Switzerland, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH, the industry’s official trading body.
“The Middle East represents ten per cent of all exports and the UAE is five per cent of that,” Hélène Fima, head of the promotional affairs department at the federation, tells Aficionado.
Dubai Watch Week brought in 76 high-level figures from Geneva, some of whom are visiting the region for the first time, to speak at panel sessions and private round table discussions, give master classes, mingle with watch enthusiasts, collectors and media, and share their experience and industry-related concerns in an open space.
Data released on behalf of the organisers stated that the event’s first edition saw 790 pre-registrations: 340 for the panels, 240 for the VIP program of closed-door discussions and tours, and 210 for the master classes.
In addition to the above, GPHG’s travelling exhibition and awards – dubbed the “Oscars” of fine watchmaking – showcased 72 shortlisted timepieces that competed for different award categories. The exhibition was showcased in Dubai as the last stop before it headed to Geneva to announce the winners.
Just next door, Dubai Watch Week hosted the “Rebels of Horology” exhibition, showcasing novelties by independent watchmakers from the Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons portfolio. This exhibition was divided, in location, between Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) – Dubai Watch Week’s event venue – and The Dubai Mall.
However, none of the exhibitions were labeled commercial.
In an interview with Aficionado ahead of the event, Melika Yazdjerdi, director of Dubai Watch Week and head of Corporate Communications at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, emphasised the event’s educational and cultural approach, steering away from the obvious commercial gains that come by default.
“An event of this magnitude has to be, in essence, cultural and educational. It’s not always about commercial values. When you educate people, you’re empowering them with knowledge and giving them the opportunity to learn something new. That in itself translates into the creation of collectors, connoisseurs and buyers,” Yazdjerdi says.
The event attracted more than 2,300 visitors, led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and the royal patron of the event.
During the same time period as the Dubai Watch Week, Christie’s held its “Important Watches” auction, in which the sale of Hublot Vision I and Hublot Vision II timepieces, donated by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons to the auction, raised AED 396,684 for humanitarian initiatives by Dubai-based philanthropic and charity organization, Dubai Cares.