Throughout Dubai Watch Week, we interviewed Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, Director Basic of the occasion and Chief Advertising and marketing & Communications Officer of Seddiqi Holding. A key occasion within the area and the worldwide watch calendar, Dubai Watch Week held its fifth version from 24 -28 November 2021. Like earlier editions, it was held on the Gate within the coronary heart of Dubai’s monetary district with over 45 watch manufacturers exhibiting beneath the umbrella “Reunited for a Second in Time.” The Dubai Watch Week is an initiative of Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, one of many main watch retailers within the Center East (and globally), with a portfolio of over 50 luxurious watch and jewelry manufacturers throughout over 70 areas within the UAE.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – Thanks for having us for this spectacular fifth version of the Dubai Watch Week. Are you able to inform us in regards to the origins of the occasion and the way you envisioned it?
Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi – It began once we hosted the GPHG (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) in 2014. It was the primary time that the tour stopped in Dubai to showcase the watches competing within the totally different classes. Following the occasion, my father advised our chairman to be able to welcome the GPHG once more in 2015. With that mandate in thoughts, I assumed that we may do greater than merely exhibit the GPHG watches. The collectors had been very , however they’d many questions. What’s the story behind this watch? Who made this watch?
We’ve been travelling to the main watch gala’s in Switzerland – to SIHH and Baselworld – for a few years. The expertise we achieve as a retailer could be very particular. We meet with folks from the trade; we sit down and chat with CEOs and watchmakers and listen to immediately from them. This type of entry was not out there to the press or collectors again then.
From 2012 onwards, we began bringing purchasers from the UAE to Geneva to fulfill the makers, the folks behind the manufacturers and present them how the watches are made. We realised that it reworked their notion of watchmaking, nurturing their ardour for the craft.
As a household, we have now all the time been very keen about watchmaking, and we needed to share our ardour. Naturally, we couldn’t take the world to Geneva however thought, “why not carry a a part of our expertise with the watch trade to Dubai?” And that’s how the thought happened.
Given our shut ties to the watch trade and the fixed circulate of data, we thought that an change platform was place to start out. And that’s how we created the Horology Discussion board, the place trade leaders and watchmakers are united beneath the identical roof to debate matters of significance. That was again in 2015. And it was actually impactful. The room was very small; we had about 30 seats. Right now, we are able to seat 100 folks, and we’re all the time absolutely booked.
We additionally created the Grasp Lessons, the place we invite watchmakers and artisans to showcase their work. By providing a hands-on expertise, folks can expertise what the human hand and mind can create. So the Horology Discussion board, the Grasp Lessons and the Inventive Hub are the three pillars of Dubai Watch Week that you just’ll see in each version.
And naturally, there’s the model exhibition. In 2015, we began with unbiased watch manufacturers. The theme was ‘Rebels of Horology’ and we had unbiased manufacturers like MB&F, Urwerk, Bovet, De Bethune, Greubel Forsey… Right now we have now forty-five manufacturers. By 2017, we realised that the occasion was increasing enormously, and since Seddiqi is organizing and funding, we determined to rejoice Dubai Watch Week each different yr.
Nonetheless, the Horology Discussion board takes place yearly. It was held in London in 2018. There are distinctive British watchmakers, and we thought that they deserve extra visibility. In 2020, in mild of the pandemic, we needed to go digital with the World Discussion board. We nonetheless should determine the place we are going to organise the 2022 discussion board, and there is perhaps a twist.
What had been the principle novelties for this 2021 version in Dubai?
We all the time ask for and collect numerous suggestions after the occasion. Suggestions from collectors revealed that they had been all in favour of having a devoted space the place they may sit, meet and delve into particular matters. That’s how we created the Collector’s Lounge. That is additionally the place we’re showcasing the Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons assortment that we created to rejoice the 50th anniversary of the UAE.
What’s the idea of this assortment?
It is a assortment of limited-edition watches we have now created with over 30 manufacturers. We have now typically commissioned UAE editions, however this 50th anniversary is a really particular and significant celebration. We needed to current a set of watches with totally different value ranges, starting from entry-level manufacturers like Victorinox and Furlan Marri to high-end manufacturers like De Bethune or Konstantin Chaykin. So there’s an intensive vary of selections and choices. It’s the first time we have now labored with extra accessible priced watch manufacturers.
May you inform us about Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons?
We’re virtually seventy-one years previous. We began earlier than the UAE was shaped when Dubai was a sheikdom and a part of the Trucial States. My grandfather was a visionary. He used to obtain magazines from India and Bahrain. That’s how he found ads from manufacturers like Rolex. He purchased his first watches from the West Finish Watch Co. that had an agent in India. There was numerous commerce between Dubai and India. After months of ready, he would obtain the watches by ship and go on his bike to the previous a part of Dubai to indicate his mates. Step by step, he constructed up a enterprise. Then he began to purchase Rolex watches with the assistance of my late uncle, who had the imaginative and prescient of sending my father and my different uncle to Geneva to be taught the language. That was one thing that no person within the Gulf would have ever have considered doing. He mentioned: “If we need to develop on this enterprise, we have now to go to the centre of this enterprise.” So he despatched two of his sons to Switzerland to check there. My father even labored at Patek Philippe in Switzerland as a salesman. That’s how they constructed a community of manufacturers. Slowly, slowly, it grew, and that is the place we’re immediately.
How would you outline the specificities of the watch market within the Center East?
The Center East, particularly the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is among the most necessary markets for watches. It’s a market the place we have now numerous collectors. It began years in the past, however we have now increasingly collectors. First, you might have the avid collector who is de facto severe, and so they know what they’re doing and have been shopping for for years. After which you might have the brand new, upcoming collectors who’re youthful. They initially began as a result of they needed a quick funding, however over time, they too acquired hooked. They’re those on Instagram. After which you might have the quiet collectors or giants. They don’t prefer to be within the highlight, however there are numerous them.
In different nations, some purchasers purchase one watch after which disappear. Right here purchasers purchase a minimal of three watches. There’s additionally a gifting tradition, particularly with watches, initially for males, however ladies at the moment are getting into the world.
The Center East has change into an important market. We’ve all the time completed restricted editions and have been very profitable, attracting worldwide consideration. The truth that manufacturers create limited-edition watches for us reveals that they perceive the significance of the area and that the watches promote out quick.
Some manufacturers within the early 2000s solely centered on China. I believe that immediately they remorse not having invested earlier in our area. Take the instance of our Joint Enterprise with WatchBox. We did very effectively within the area in comparison with America. Once more, it’s one other illustration of the potential of the market, of its buying energy.
Listening to the conversations right here, you may inform that persons are very educated about watches.
We have now all the time centered on coaching our salespeople. They used to transmit info to the consumer. Right now it’s the alternative; purchasers are fairly often strolling encyclopedias, and so they know precisely what they need.
Effectively, you’re a part of that, for example, with the cultural dimension of the occasion right here.
It began with the journeys we organised to take folks to the factories. We’ve invested numerous effort and time in informing folks about watches.
In your perspective, what are the principle traits for the worldwide watch market within the coming years?
We sense that there’s a demand for good high quality watches, however not essentially costly watches. MB&F has anticipated this pattern with its M.A.D Watch. Max has created a loopy watch; it’s very MB&F however much more reasonably priced than the opposite merchandise within the model’s repertoire. So I believe we are going to see manufacturers providing entry-level merchandise as a result of there’s demand. As an illustration, for security causes, many individuals want to put on a cheaper watch when travelling. We additionally see a watch trade pattern marked by the shift into the world of cryptocurrency and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). That’s why we have now a panel in regards to the matter.
How do you see giant manufacturers and unbiased watchmakers cohabiting within the trade?
Right now, Mr Dufour, the CEO of Rolex, was right here. As he was touring the occasion, he stopped at each unbiased model to see what they had been doing. It definitely is a pleasure for these unbiased watchmakers to have the CEO of an enormous like Rolex displaying curiosity in what they do. Giant manufacturers and small independents are in numerous leagues. They might have totally different purchasers, however they nurture each other.
There are collaborations just like the one unveiled right here between Bvlgari and MB&F. I believe there’s a want for extra watch collaborations within the watch trade. We have now seen this within the vogue trade, and I believe there might be extra of those within the watch trade.
We’re believers that individuals who give will all the time obtain rather more. Collaborating and wanting the nice for different folks, doing issues with different folks, offers you extra.
What can we anticipate for the subsequent version of Dubai Watch Week?
Dubai Watch Week will develop larger and richer with its program however not in dimension. We’re pleased with the scale of the occasion and pleased with the venue. It provides to the allure of the occasion. You will have walked round, and also you’ve seen we’ve utilised each area of the venue. We’ll work on our program, with our manufacturers and assimilate all of the suggestions to make it a good higher expertise. So, whoever needs to be a part of the occasion ought to tell us upfront. However those that have been supporting us might be given precedence.
For extra info, please go to www.dubaiwatchweek.com.