Dubai Watch Week: Anything but a mirage

Dubai Watch Week has to be seen to be believed. Held for the sixth time in the heart of the Dubai International Financial Centre, the annual happening is not only incomparable and unique, but has also established itself as the world’s second-largest watchmaking event behind Watches and Wonders Geneva.

Dubai Watch Week has to be seen to be believed. Held for the sixth time in the heart of the Dubai International Financial Centre, the annual happening is not only incomparable and unique, but has also established itself as the world’s second-largest watchmaking event behind Watches and Wonders Geneva. Each new addition draws more exhibitors spread over a larger area as well as more from more countries the world over. It reflects not only the region’s commercial dynamism, but also Dubai’s global ambitions in terms of economic attractiveness, along with the accompanying pragmatism demonstrated in recent years. Dubai Watch Week’s prowess also lies in its ability to maintain the same warm and friendly atmosphere as in its early days, when it presented 14 brands in a few showcases in the Opera Gallery. Exhibitors and visitors alike are unanimously won over by the family spirit preserved by the organizers (the Seddiqi family, the largest retailer in the United Arab Emirates) and embodied in the show’s ergonomic layout. Resembling an amphitheater with a central pavilion and a dozen pop-up areas, all surrounded by terraces, boutiques, galleries and restaurants, Dubai Watch Week combines its cultural and educational dimension (embedded in its DNA) with a lifestyle experience that most brands and their clients are looking for. So much so that some tour operators are now offering it as a destination! With over 50 brands this time (along with as many CEOs) and 23,000 visitors from every continent, the week generated some fabulous stories.

The Success Trilogy

True to its initial spirit, which positioned it as a platform for exchanges that has inspired many of its watchmaking counterparts, DWW offered a generous schedule of events with a succession of workshops, debates and presentations held daily in the Collectors’ Lounge, Creative Hub and Forums. Discussions continued under the shade of the palm trees in the numerous relaxation areas available, ideal for further encounters and providing even more networking opportunities. At the end of each day, cocktails, collectors’ dinners and parties extended this virtuous circle amid Dubai’s bright lights, mild autumn weather and dynamic atmosphere. From small-scale artisans to the global giant with the crown logo, the 50 exhibitors invited by Seddiqi & Sons (the key retailer behind DWW) put on a stunning show featuring three different styles.

Mohammed Seddiqi encouraged and congratulated Federico Ziviani, CEO Gerald Charles


Global Launch

Why go local when you can go global? A good quarter of DWW’s exhibitors used their participation in this flagship event as a springboard for global launches. Among the most sought-after independent brands, H. Moser & Cie. chose DWW to unveil its magnificent new Streamliner Small Seconds collection, featuring a diameter synonymous with a broader clientele. On a different note, Frederique Constant (FC) was one of the few brands to launch two world firsts, highlighting the breadth of its range on the occasion of its 35th anniversary: the Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Manufacture in the Highlife collection, as well as a Highlife tandem with its ambassador The Avener. The producer and DJ was on hand for the occasion (his video interview is available on WorldTempus), taking to the decks to make the FC evening one of the week’s most memorable. Watch lovers were also delighted by the diversity of brands and the models they unveiled on site, notably including Armin Strom, ArtyA, Breitling, Ferdinand Berthoud, Greubel Forsey, Oris and Ulysse Nardin.

Seddiqi & Sons has also launched its own brand, consisting of limited editions: Vyntage.


Seddiqi limited series

The influence and importance of DWW and its organiser are also demonstrated by the number of brands that have created a special series for its market, whether Hublot with 50 ladies’ and men’s pairs of Classic Fusion watches in the colors of a local artist; or Carl F. Bucherer, which has designed two one-of-a-kind Haute Horlogerie models. In most instances, these involved a few dozen timepieces with dials featuring distinctive motifs, as in the case of Speake Marin or Reservoir; or 10 monochrome examples in the case of Bovet or De Bethune. In instances where a brand’s history has long been linked to that of the Seddiqi family, the launch benefits from special staging in which Mohammed Seddiqi is personally involved as Sales Director. Witness Doxa, which was first imported 50 years ago by previous generations; or Gerald Charles, as the Seddiqis were personally acquainted acquainted with father of the young CEO Federico Ziviani, who relaunched the brand in 2020. Generally speaking, a sense of family and entrepreneurship are values highly prized by the Seddiqis, whose third-generation representative Hind Seddiqi is indeed at the head of DWW.

Reservoir’s Popeye Cricket, a Seddiqi limited series on the front page of GMT GCC.

Image Building 

Outside the central pavilion, where some 40 brands were to be found at small, uniform booths, some of the big names had chosen to exhibit their own worlds in much larger spaces. Here, visitors were guided through the brand and its products along with corresponding explanations, often organised by theme: the first Haute Horlogerie exhibition for Chanel, Daytona for Rolex, sport for Tudor, innovation for Audemars Piguet, Freak for Ulysse Nardin, the art of living for Chopard and Girard-Perregaux, along with the main collections for Bulgari and Hublot. To mark its first participation, Van Cleef & Arpels had built the most impressive booth at DWW to house its concept of a travelling exhibition recreating a miniature Paris and its famous Pont des Amoureux (Love Lock Bridge). Christie’s, meanwhile, exhibited 150 watches from its promising Oak Collection sale. Above and beyond the impact in terms of image, hosting guests in their own pavilion enabled them to promote closer ties by offering refreshments and a chance to linger. The Audemars Piguet stand was undoubtedly the most appealing of all and regularly drew long queues at its entrance, with a peak of 2,600 visits on day two of DWW.
DWW’s current dilemma lies in the limitations of its current location, which is now jam-packed yet so very pleasant. Would further growth mean moving, at the risk of losing its precious conviviality?