A look back at Dubai Watch Week
The extraordinary event that was Dubai Watch Week is now over. Watchonista enjoyed many special moments with some of our favorite brands, and of course, the esteemed Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. Here’s a recap.
Going on its third year, 2017’s Dubai Watch Week was the largest ever. This unique showcase is organized by the Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons with the goal of advancement, awareness, and appreciation of the watch industry.
We believe Dubai Watch Week accomplished their goals and much, much more. Sitting here now, our team is still digesting what was a very special week. Whether it was attending a panel, masterclass, creative hubs, or one of the various after-hours indulgences, this was a trip to remember. While we experienced so many special moments, we’ll attempt to highlight our favorite experiences below.
Of course, watches were the primary reason we came to Dubai Watch Week. At the end of the day, it’s all about the watches, and Dubai Watch Week did not disappoint. Throughout the week, there were numerous unveilings and even a few surprise announcements. Here is a selection of our favorite five.
Tag Heuer Autavia UAE Limited Edition
To start, the first surprise I saw was the Tag Heuer Autavia UAE Limited Edition. Made in collaboration with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, this special version of the popular chronograph features a desert inspired look. The faded brown bezel and caramel sub dials are accentuated by a cream dial that perfectly reflects the Middle Eastern scene which we were in. A quirky highlight of this piece might be the camel leather strap. Which just sounds fun to say.
New Audemars Piguet Millenary and a look at the future of AP’s ladies’ pieces
Audemars Piguet didn’t dawdle either, they released a trio of new additions to their Millenary collection as part of their pre-SIHH presentation. The pieces still feature AP’s in-house 5201 calibre yet feature new case finishing and bracelets. The new white/pink gold pieces have a polished mesh bracelet and other leather options. Most notable of the AP releases is the new Frosted Gold Millenary piece featuring an incredible Opal dial.
During the “Grand Complications: An all-boys club?” panel, AP CEO François-Henry Bennahmias let a secret slip. In 2018, AP will be releasing a women’s sized skeleton version of their popular frosted gold Royal Oak. This fact signals AP is taking women’s mechanical timepieces seriously. The brand previously had numerous Quartz pieces for women, what great news for female fans of mechanical timepieces.
Moritz Grossman Extreme-Dubai Edition
The Glashütte stalwart introduced a special edition made for Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. Finished in an oxidized steel with a new dial that looks rustic yet modern. At first glance, the piece looks cracked, almost destroyed, yet it’s not. Made in a total of 17 ½ pieces, the novelty was sold out by day two of the fair.
Moser Endeavour for Dubai
The disruptive brand introduced an Endeavour Concept exclusively for Seddiqi and Dubai Watch Club. This time only watch has a beautiful silver fume dial and was released at an event for members of the local collector group, Dubai Watch Club. Prior to the event, all 33 pieces had sold. This simple fact is another reminder of the impact and importance of Dubai to watch collectors.
IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Middle East
During an event at the creative hub, IWC released a hand-wound Portugieser tourbillon. This edition features a gorgeous starburst green dial with the brands signature tourbillon. Strictly limited to the Middle East with only 25 pieces produced.
Romain Jerome Batman
At a splashy release party, high atop the Four Season, Romain Jerome introduced the Skylab Batman DNA. The second in Romain Jerome’s licensed Batman timepieces is an evolution of the original Batman DNA. If the original Batman DNA was the Michael Keaton of Batman watches, this piece is surely the Christian Bale edition. The skeletonized dial features a stunning Dark Knight era Batman insignia that glows a brilliant Blue under UV light. The caseback is actually a map of Gotham City. This was probably one of my favorite pieces of Dubai Watch Week. The interpretive dancers and dry ice at the release party didn’t hurt.
While we enjoyed many special moments at Dubai Watch Week’s various panel discussions, there are a few that stand out.
Watchonista Co-Founder Alexander Friedman participated on four different panels. With topics including; “How big is your collection”, “Watch Etiquette”, “Grand Complications: An All-Boys Club”, and “The Resurrection of Brands.” Some of my favorite moments from Alex’s panels included a spirited debate surrounding the marketing of brands, which saw Zenith’s CEO Julien Tornare indicate that his brand would never produce a smartwatch. Additionally, the Grand Complications panel saw Suzanne Wong and Hodinkee’s Cara Barrett exchange numerous tales of women’s love of mechanical timepieces.
As the independent’s panel, Mr. Journe shared a story (in English!) about his early days as a watchmaker. In 1977, as a young man living in Paris, François Paul found himself in need of a spiral hairspring for a pocket watch he was creating. At the time, he didn’t have any supply chain contacts he started cold calling various suppliers. He got Nivarox on the phone and asked if they could send him a spiral hairspring. To his surprise, they agreed. After exchanging specifications, the Nivarox representative asked Mr. Journe to mail him a postage paid envelope with 20 Francs. Journe jumped at the chances and within a few days he had not one, but five hairsprings! What a tale, and François-Paul has so many more of these stories.
During the “Modifications” panel, we enjoyed spirited discussion about watch modifications. Max Busser quipped,
“You need to accept that when you’ve sold a piece, it’s owned by somebody and they can do whatever they want with it.”
This was a revelation to the audience as Max had never spoken publicly about the topic before.
“You want to put a steamroller over them? You can do what you want, it’s your watch. I don’t understand why these brands get super paranoid about modifications.”
A very refreshing take on the art of modifications.
During the panel “Hammer Time”, we heard from experts about the auction world. Some key takeaways were:
– it is always important to be surrounded by experts to make informed decisions
– Reading the condition report carefuly is key befoire buying, especially if you are not going to see the watch
– Before you bid for the first time, attend several auctions to better understand the specific process of an auction
The auction scene
How do you penetrate the secretive world of watch auctions? If you attended the various workshops from Dubai Watch Week, then you would now know where to start. As we were reminded from panellists, auction houses need to be considered as incredible universities. They run in-depth research and provide education around the pieces that are auctioned.
In that context, we had the great pleasure to follow a discussion between Stacy Perman, an award-winning journalist and John Reardon, International Head of the Watch Department at Christie’s, Stacy is the author of the book A Grand Complication – The race to build the world’s most legendary watch that tells the story of two gentleman collectors who competed fiercely to possess the most complicated watch leading Patek Philippe to produce the Henry Graves Super complication for example. The different style of collectors they were, highlights from their respective collections, anecdotes about their watches: we’ve learnt it all through the conversation.
From Rémy Julia, specialist and head of Middle East, India & Africa, we’ve learned why rarity and condition of a watch is so important when buying at auction. Rémy provided some insightful tips to help you quickly become a savvy collector. He insisted that before starting collecting a brand, one should be fully aware of the existence of references from the brand and if they communicate around their patrimony. While Patek Philippe does provide comprehensive information on their past production, brands such as Rolex are hardly doing it.
Dubai Watch Week is definitely unique!
With the strong impulse of Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and under the Patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Dubai has become more than ever the epicenter of the Middle East watch culture.
There is only one event that offers you an easy access to horological knowledge, the opportunity to have a relaxed chat with best watchmakers and the most influential digital medias.
Dubai Watch Week has not only established itself as the leading horological event in Middle East, but surely after having witnessed the gain in interest from brands, professionals and medias during this successful 3rd edition, it has positioned itself as a real global watch event. This is a very important step for the watch world who was used to mainly count on the two Swiss rendezvous in Geneva and Basel…
Everybody is somehow participating! Attending the panels as moderator, speaker or part of the audience is a privileged and intimate moment where you can share your knowledge, your ideas or vision. At that precise moment, you realize that you are part of the Dubai Watch Week. And this is truly unique.
On behalf on Watchonista’s Team, we would like to warmly thank all the Seddiqi’s Family, Melika and the DWW dream team and all the watchmakers and brands present to the event. We really hope to be back soon… before 2020. ;-)
In case you missed it, here’s a recap of our Dubai Watch Week articles: