Dubai Watch Week, cut-above watchmaking in the Middle East
Between 15 and 19 November 2016, watchmaking excellence is heading over to Dubai. For one whole week, the focus will be on sharing expertise and knowledge. Watchonista is taking part for the second year running.
What we tend to forget here in Switzerland, proudly ensconced in this land of watchmakers bequeathed to us by our ancestors, is that watchmaking is first and foremost a culture. It's far more than just an economic branch of activity, the country's third biggest industry, registering impressive export figures, generating numerous jobs and events. Luckily, we are sometimes reminded of the fact by countries for whom, without any shadow of a doubt, that very same industry is equated with works of art and fine craftsmanship of infinite beauty, representing skills that have been jealously guarded and painstakingly preserved. It has joined the ranks of historical treasures, exquisite celebrations of know-how, innovation and creativity.
It's no coincidence, therefore, that Dubai Watch Week, although masterminded and organised by a private enterprise, the family-run company, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, and one of the most legendary retailers in this part of the world, is taking place under the esteemed patronage of one of the highest cultural authorities in the Emirate, Her Highness Sheikha Latifa Bint Mohammed Ben Rachid Al Maktoum, vice chairman of Dubai culture and arts.
Middle Eastern extravagance meets micro-mechanics in watchmaking
Organised under the dominant theme of 'The Masters of Time', the second edition of an event whose fame has now spread throughout the region and beyond, spans two of the city's throbbing nerve centres, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping mall in the United Arab Emirates. It's the biggest centre in the world, according to its developer, built on a total surface area of 1.1 million m², home to around twelve shopping centres, themselves covering 836,000 sq.m. of commercial space housing 1,200 boutiques. Between the kind of extravagance that only this Middle Eastern megapolis can deliver and the infinitesimally small, micro-mechanics of watchmaking, two worlds find common ground.
For its second edition, the event is pursuing its alliance with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FFH), which is seated in Geneva and best known for organising the Salon de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), held every January for more than 25 years at Geneva's Palexpo. As in 2015, the prize-winning watches from the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) will be on display in the DIFC, together with those models having earned the highest distinctions in the sector. Apart from these highlights, the event, which extends further than its first edition in 2015, also offers a rich programme structured around the transmissible educational values of the watchmaking world, featuring a series of exhibitions, workshops, forums, master-classes in watchmaking and exclusive VIP events held on both sites.
Exhibitions and brands
Exhibitions include 'The Mastery of Time' curated by the FHH and '24 Hours in The Life of a Swiss Cuckoo Clock' created by teachers & students from the GenevaUniversity of Art and Design(HEAD), both of which will be held in the Dubai Mall. In the DIFC, visitors will also be able to see 'Horological Movements', an exhibition dedicated to watchmaking calibres and complications, such as the perpetual calendar, the tourbillon and the chronograph.
Finally the thirty or so watchmaking brands taking part are, in alphabetical order: A. Lange & Söhne, Akrivia, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Bovet, Breitling, Bulgari, Chopard, Christiaan van der Klaauw, Corum, De Grisogono, Emmanuel Bouchet, F.P. Journe, Ferdinand Berthoud, Greubel Forsey, H. Moser, Hublot, HYT, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, MB&F, MCT - Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps, Montblanc, Moritz Grossmann, Panerai, Richard Mille, Romain Gauthier, Romain Jerome, TAG Heuer and Vacheron Constantin.
Watchonista's very own Alexander Friedman among the experts
At 3 p.m. on Thursday 18 November, Alexander Friedman, co-founder of the online media platform watchonista.com will be speaking as orator and co-ordinator of the discussion panel '100 years of watchmaking', to an audience of prestigious guests, including talented watchmaker, Philippe Dufour, and Christian Selmoni, creative director at Vacheron Constantin. He is also appearing, as a guest, this time, of the round table on 'Challenges facing the retailer'. New guests will also be joining the ranks of habitués already familiar with the event, having taken part in multiple meet-ups last year.
And so, this year, it's the turn of François-Henry Bennahmias, chairman of Audemars Piguet, Alain Zimmerman, likewise of Baume & Mercier, David Sadigh, founder and chairman of Digital Luxury Group and Michael Tay, group managing director of The Hour Glass, to make their foray into the watchmaking forum. They will be joining other icons of the Swiss watchmaking industry already familiar to Dubai, other eminent figures of the independent scene. Among them, Jean-Marc Wiedderecht, owner and chairman, Maximilian Busser, founder of the MB&F brand - Maximilian Büsser & Friends, and Pascal Raffy, owner of Bovet…
Keen to offer the public the very quintessence of world watchmaking excellence, the organisers once again have succeeded in fixing world attention on its showcase event. Where else could one see such eminent representatives of the industry, from the most illustrious personalities to the most knowledgeable experts, not to mention the most followed influencers? Already, only in its second edition, Dubai Watch Week has carved out its niche as a go-to event in the watchmaking calendar. Watch this space…
DUBAI WATCH WEEK ON WATCHONISTA