Dubai Watch Week, now in its 6th edition, has evolved into a global epicenter for horology, blending tradition, innovation and cultural significance. Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the five day industry event founded by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons was successfully concluded on a high note, with a mix of educational talks, thought leadership forums and brand presentations.
This edition, with over 55 brands participating, solidified its role as an instrumental player in the luxury watch trade, whilst expanding its consumer offerings to include resin clock-making masterclasses for children and booths, such as that of Van Cleef Arpels, Chanel and Bvlgari, stylishly positioned to cater to a more feminine demographic in a traditionally more male-centric watch industry.
Some of this year’s sale highlights include global watchmaker, Hublot, launching an exuberant Dubai-exclusive collection, in collaboration with esteemed calligraphy artist, Wissam Shawkat. In celebrating artistry, the event simultaneously placed independent watch makers on a pedestal as part of its inclusive Brand Exhibitions, all whilst enriching consumers with a plethora of educational forums and insightful talks, led by leading experts and brands.
Max Bernardini, a true luminary in the rare vintage timepieces market, has been a globetrotting curator, dealer and collector for most of his professional life. His philosophical, and at times, idealistic observations at auction house Christie’s Middle East pavilion, stems from his passion for rarity and beauty. In the context of preserving heritage of watchmaking, Max eloquently touched upon the importance of manufacturers in maintaining archives, drawing parallels between the Concours d’Elegance in cars and how such order could be replicated in the watch industry.
Max’s insights were complemented by seasoned car restoration professional, Miguel Llorente’s perspective, particularly on the delicate fine line to be balanced between preservation and invasive alterations. He underscored the importance of documentation as a watch is restored, in order to retain credibility in any modifications, however minor, whilst according due recognition and respect for the watch’s history. A pivotal point in the discussion revolved around the need for a trustworthy reference point in the watch industry, such as a “Gallery of Benchmarks”, that collectors are able to refer to, of which, Max suggested could be spearheaded by heritage departments of manufacturers, credible insiders and supported by a panel of experts.
Dubai Watch Week, a movement in horology, will continue to pioneer rising players across key fields and support initiatives that further elevate our industry, and cement Dubai as a global centre for culture in line with the nation’s vision.Hind Seddiqi, Director General of Dubai Watch Week
Over at the Horology Forum, Omar Johnson, recognized for his transformative role in bringing Beats by Dre to fame, and François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, highlighted the immense power of brand collaborations. Their conversation centered around what sets apart a good collaboration from an excellent one. Whilst there is no rigid set of factors, some broad themes include harmonizing the ethos of brands and developing a shared, common vision.
Bennahmias further highlighted Audemars Piguet’s avoidance of direct celebrity endorsements. Instead, the brand has chosen to establish itself as a trendsetter in pushing the boundaries of art and music, by cultivating authenticity through genuine, classy consumer touchpoints. An example is its choice of supporting Art Basel more than a decade ago, without any immediate prospects to convert sales.
Independent watchmakers such as Bremont, De Bethune, H. Moser & Cie, Urwerk, MING and more, represent dynamic forces in the horological landscape. These craftsmen eschew the traditional confines of established houses, daring to challenge conventions and infuse their creations with a distinctive character.
British manufacturer, Bremont, backed by investors Bill Ackman and Hellcat LP, recently appointed accomplished leader, Davide Cerrato, who epitomizes their spirited approach to aviation and military influences, to accelerate its growth whilst retaining its core ethos. The brand, which was founded in 2002 by brothers Nick and Giles English, shared that such an ethos revolves around creating timepieces that not only tell time but also narrate stories of adventure and heritage, coupled with precision engineering, emphasizing a bespoke approach that sets it apart from mass-produced counterparts.
Urwerk, helmed by a third generation watchmaker, Felix Baumgartner, who was interestingly once a Techno DJ, ventures into avant-garde territories as a way of redefining how time is displayed. Known for bold and unconventional displays, it merges the purity of traditional craftsmanship passed down through generations, whilst embracing cutting-edge technology, thereby crafting highly complicated timepieces that are as much a visual spectacle as they are functional.
Finally, MING, under the leadership of CEO, Praneeth Rajsingh, emerges as a forerunner of ingenuity. As a relatively young player in the industry, not bound by the shackles of tradition, the brand is committed to disrupt the status quo, having clinched the prestigious Horological Revelation Prize in 2019. MING has also arguably and proudly produced one of the world’s lightest mechanical watches, with the automatic version weighing in at 10.8 grams and manual at 8.8 grams. A clear acknowledgment of their commitment to pushing boundaries.
As Dubai Watch Week continues to evolve, it stands as a beacon for aficionados of horology, providing a glimpse into the riveting realm of timepieces.