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Dubai Watch Week: The watchmen are coming

The fourth edition of the Dubai Watch Week will offer something for everyone, says Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi. Expect global launches and limited-edition timepieces,  a Rolex exhibition and even  a new movement

It’s a good platform for watch lovers, and for people who would like to learn about what’s happening in the market.

The fourth edition of the Dubai Watch Week (DWW) will be even more inclusive than previous editions. Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi, Chief Commercial Officer for Seddiqi Holding, organiser of the free event, says it aims to be a platform for all horology enthusiasts.

“We’re targeting people who appreciate watchmaking, look for strong designs and some talking pieces,” he tells Debonair 50 days before the opening.

In a departure from the status quo in the industry, where these events can be exclusionary, Seddiqi says DWW will appeal to those new to watchmaking as much as it will to seasoned collectors. “We will have products from a very entry-level; prices will start at Dhs12,000. That said, they will be very limited, and made specifically for DWW.”

It’s a good platform for watch lovers, and for people who would like to learn about what’s happening in the market.

Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi

He adds that none of the timepieces showcased will cost more than Dhs100,000. “We are targeting the young generation, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z, generation whatever you want to call it — the whole alphabet.”

DWW’s inclusive approach to pricing affirms its core ideal as an educational platform. “Having the CEOs readily available within the campus of the DWW — and I call it a campus as it’s an educational platform — is something that many have tried internationally, albeit without being able to reach the level we’re reaching is because they take a commercial approach.”

Seddiqi’s main objective is to present DWW as a non-commercial exhibition, mainly focusing on educating and consumers, even ourselves, about the watch industry and about luxury industry in general.

“It’s not like an SIHH or Basel, fully commercial exhibitions where CEOs and watchmakers are busy selling their products, meeting clients, entertaining them and engaging in the PR activities related to their products or the brands they represent.”

Seddiqi says the event is relevant to other industries too, as the topics up for discussion transcend horology. “It’s a good platform for watch lovers, and for people who would like to learn about what’s happening in the market.”

In a major coup, fair-shy Rolex is confirmed for DWW, marking the brand’s debut at a watchmaking event in the Middle East. This achievement rests on Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons’ relationship with Rolex, which dates back to the 1950s. The premium watch brand typically only participates in Baselworld and its own events, particularly related to sport. “It’s an honour and privilege for Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons to have Rolex showcase at the DWW,” he says.

“It’s not a big surprise for us that Rolex signed on, given that we have a Rolex Tower in Dubai that is 100% owned by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, whereas any other Rolex structure worldwide is either owned by Rolex or a subsidiary. So, the brand already knows and appreciates its relationship with our organisation.

“But for us as the DWW platform, we are really excited that Rolex accepted. It will add a lot of value for the end consumers coming to the event, and will give it more credibility. And I’m sure what they will be displaying would be very interesting for our clients to see and to get to know the brand even more.”

The news follows the 2018 opening of the largest Rolex boutique in the world in Dubai.

Rolex has confirmed its participation with a dedicated exhibition exploring the universe of the Oyster Perpetual Submariner. Through panels and interactive displays, the Submariner exhibition will tell the story of how the celebrated divers’ watch developed over the years. According to a statement, guests will also discover how, over time, the Submariner became an emblematic watch on land as well as at sea.

The organisers are also working on an exhibition that will feature some inimitable vintage Rolex timepieces. “We’re collaborating with the brand on this,” Seddiqi says, “and it’s not easy. We’re looking through the archives to uncover the histories of these watches — when were they sold, to whom etc. We’re trying to get as much information as possible. And we have only 50 days left,” he adds with a chuckle.

DWW will see the launch of seven limited edition timepieces, but Seddiqi is coy about divulging too much. However, he says the number 19 will feature prominently, this being 2019 after all.

Another first is the launch of a Seddiqi movement, something quite rare. “We’ve been working with a brand for the past five years to develop a movement specifically made for Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons,” the COO teases.

The watches it features in will only be available on the group’s platforms.

“It’s an idea that we had many years ago and looking at the market, maybe some people are doing this kind of movement, but to develop a totally new movement based on this concept, I would say it’s a big challenge. But we, as Seddiqi, along with our partners, like to always be the first to do something new. Historically, we were the first to introduce Hindi numerals on the Hublot Vision — before any other brand did it. Again with Hublot, we were the first to introduce rainbow bezels, when we did the Hublot Lady Dubai.

“We love to be pioneers, even though we don’t brag about it.”

The DWW has also become known for its very interesting panel discussions, where some of the biggest names in the industry talk and debate their shared passion. Insiders, meanwhile, appreciate the networking opportunities it offers. “Today, networking is important in any industry, and it’s even more so for us. Watchmakers collaborate frequently, not always on complete pieces or even fully announced, but it’s common to share parts and ideas. And they appreciate the opportunity to meet in a casual environment,” Seddiqi says.

“When I was in Geneva in April, we met F.P. Journe, and said he couldn’t wait to attend DWW, but not to participate in anything officially. ‘I just want to enjoy my time, meet my colleagues and discuss what’s happening in the industry,’ he said.

“So, if this great watchmaker, maybe one of the best watchmakers of the 21st century, uses DWW as a platform to meet all these other great industry insiders, we’re on the right track.”

The fourth edition of Dubai Watch Week, themed Innovation & Technology, takes place November 20-24 in DIFC

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