The Digital Side of Dubai Watch Week
Let’s face it, whether you like it or not, the social media generation is here to stay. Now more than ever, people are sharing their passion for watches to Instagram and reading their favorite websites. Dubai Watch Week and the Seddiqi family have recognized this trend and built an entire show around it.
I first learned of the Dubai watch scene in 2015. I was following some of the local collectors on Instagram and was mesmerized by what I saw. Anything from Advanced Research Patek Phillipes to crazy custom Urwerk pieces were being shared to the social media channel, it was clear that something important was happening in Dubai.
Within a few months, I knew that I had to make a visit to see it firsthand. I had been liking and commenting on the photos of @d_244, @yg_watches, @mrgreencertified, and many more for months. It was time to take the conversation to the inbox, so I directed a few messages their way. To my surprise, within minutes, they gave me a warm welcome and an invite to attend their Dubai Watch Club gathering. As any sane watch person would do, I immediately booked a trip. Since that visit, I’ve made friendships that I’m confident will last a lifetime, and it was all because we discovered each other digitally.
Dubai Watch Week’s digital impact
As the biggest names in the world of watches are assembled in Dubai for Dubai Watch Week, I felt it was pertinent that I address the impact of this increasingly digital show. This year, the organizers of Dubai Watch Week have risen to the occasion and fully embraced digital media, building the show into a global phenomenon. The proverbial floodgates of the show have now been opened to press, collectors, and influencers.
Since the specialized watch press was gathered in Dubai, we reached out to some of our friends at other medias for their comments on Dubai Watch Week. Hodinkee’s Cara Barrett explained, “Dubai watch Week has been one of the most fun and informative watch events that I have ever been to. It is clear to me that the watch community here is so strong and will continue to grow thanks to the Seddiqi family and all the participants this week.”
The digital impact of Dubai Watch Week goes far beyond the show itself. Attendees share photos, video, and temporary content like Snapchat and Instagram stories. This content is then broadcast around the world, raising awareness and visibility of the show. Simply put, I believe we’re witnessing the rise of a new age.
Relationships forged with the swipe of the finger
People have never been more connected than they have over the last few years, and social media has helped to bring together many people who share the same passion. In much the same way that I formed relationships with the Dubai collectors, many more friendships and followings are happening all around Dubai Watch Week.
The collectors of Dubai are VERY connected. Before this trip, I was interacting with numerous collectors via WhatsApp and Instagram DMs. We planned our meetups and even which watches we’d wear throughout the week. From thousands of miles away, we were instantaneously united.
When speaking with Khalil Ghorbani, aka @paneraicentral, he gave a great remark about how social media has changed the landscape: “Social media has truly become a game changer within the watch industry. Just like anything new and disruptive to what the norm is, it’s really brought a new level of engagement and bridges the gap between brands and the actual users, collectors, and inspiring buyers. Beyond that it has created a community where collectors and fans of all ages and levels become friends based on a single passion. I have personally connected with people that I would have never met if not for social media. This is something print media will never be able to do.”
The rise of the influencer
Just a few years ago, many brands didn’t understand the positives of social media. They couldn’t easily calculate the ROI of the various platforms because they weren’t seeing direct sales based on their efforts. I think brands are recognizing now that social media is a key driver of the purchasing process, but is just one of many tools. We’re seeing Instagram and Facebook playing a role in building brand equity and awareness. And yes, we have “influencers” to thank.
To some, the word influencer may convey a negative connotation. However, if you can distill the essence of what makes a quality social media page, you can cut through the hubris of Instagram and find the cream of the crop. Now more than ever, brands are focusing their efforts on finding the best “influencers” and forging relationships. These influential people can be great advocates for your brand.
With this new generation having a shorter attention span, people have less time for feature-length articles and instead spend their time scrolling social media feeds.
Dubai Watch Week has recognized this trend and collaborated with influencers such as @benclymer, @dailywatch, @arabwatchguide, and many more. While I don’t self-identify as an “influencer” I have a couple Instagram followers, and I’m more than delighted to be in Dubai for Watch Week.
Over a fabulous Italian dinner at Cipriani, Ted Gushue (of Petrolicious fame) explained that social media is all about the metrics. Now more than ever, brands care about the numbers. How many followers someone has, and their engagement rate drive the decision to invite them to events. Ted also remarked that brands pay close attention to the quality of content produced by influencers. A good picture can drive thousands of likes and reposts, thus enhancing a brand’s image.
Brands now understand that social media can start a conversation that they weren’t able to have before.
As a relatively new city, Dubai is built for the social media generation. With hyper-fast fiber optic connectivity in nearly every home, and Wi-Fi on every street corner, the word can spread quick in this town. It doesn’t hurt that this town is VERY photogenic. From the Burj Khalifa to desert dune buggies, there’s a new opportunity for content around every corner.
While we live in a tricky world, watches can bridge many of our differences. Having a platform like Instagram is a godsend for building new relationships and staying updated with horological happenings.
Dubai watch week reflects everything that is changing about the watch industry. The show has totally adapted to the times and they understand that people are going to the social media to share their passion. The digital promotions wing of the show has gone out of their way to target people on social media, and the show has been sharing the best of the week to their channel, @dubaiwatchweek.
We asked Robert Jan Broer of Fratello Watches his thoughts, “Dubai Watch Week has been a very interesting experience. Not only can you find a mix of independent watchmaking brands and large brands showcasing their collections, you were also able to participate in watchmaking and engraving classes for example. The panel discussions and forums lead by certain key opinion leaders in the industry have been most interesting, these actually position the Dubai Watch Week on a more intellectual level than the commercial based Geneva and Baselworld exhibitions.”
Digital media is a key driver of Dubai Watch Week and the collecting community at large. Whether a brand is trying to build admiration of their products, or they’re participating in geo-targeted promotions to bring in a new audience, social media is here to stay. The Seddiqi family innately understands that social media tools can be used for the good and improvement of the watch industry.
One last shameless plug before I go: be sure to view all our Dubai Watch Week photos under the hashtag, #mydww