Horology Forum Sit Down: The Past, Present, and Future with Hind Seddiqi
This past weekend the team behind Dubai Watch Week descended upon New York’s Meatpacking District for an unforgettable weekend of watches.
What better place for Horology Forum to make its first U.S. appearance than the City That Never Sleeps? With time always on the mind, New York is filled with horological enthusiasts at every level, so it comes as no surprise that this weekend was a huge success.
A staple of any summit are the people and personalities you meet: To begin our “Horology Forum Sit Down” series, we chat with Hind Seddiqi, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Seddiqi Holding and Director General of Dubai Watch Week, a.k.a. the woman who runs the show and brought Horology Forum 2022 to New York City.
J.J. Owens: Why New York? What made this city appealing for the first US-based Horology Forum?
Hind Seddiqi: It’s a vibrant city with very similar energy to Dubai, it’s one of the most important markets for many watch brands, and there’s a great community of watch enthusiasts. We wanted to show a bit of the Dubai Watch Week spirit, but also since we are on a path to discovery, we wanted to learn more about the American watch industry and see if we can play a role in incubating brands who want to grow.
JO: How did you tailor this Horology Forum to a New York audience?
HS: We came with a new format: the panels which are the normal format, but also the debates and elements of our master classes. We wanted to bring things that match the spirit of a New York audience. Giving attendees access to experiences they may not have access to was a priority: everything is free, it is casual and inclusive.
JO: What gave you and the Dubai Watch Week team the desire to create a summit so different from all the rest?
HS: We enjoyed the industry as retailers, very different to clients. We wanted people to understand why we love and are passionate about this industry. We had access to things the clients did not, so we thought why not? Clients change and their demands change, they want to connect to a brand in order to purchase something. Everything has always been B2B and linked to sales; we wanted to change that and make it about education but also learning what people want. We want to show people they can come and have fun but also learn and leave appreciating something.
JO: Post-pandemic, what is the biggest shift you have seen in terms of the consumer and general watch audience?
HS: We saw a big interest toward independents; they were available and approachable. It brought the watch community closer to each other: more clubs and YouTube channels; the approach became more human.
JO: With the industry changing rapidly, what are you most excited about?
HS: The acceptance of new brands that aren’t haute horlogerie…brands like Furlan Marri. People go crazy for it; we are very happy to see a brand that’s just starting get so much attention. It gives hope to others that want to start something. You can still start from scratch.
JO: How do you feel about the younger generation of collectors?
HS: In the Middle East, we’ve seen an entry of youth, as young as thirteen. They know they can’t afford this watch, but the appreciation and enthusiasm are there. For that age group to be interested in watches, it’s amazing.
JO: How has a retailer do you tailor the store experience to a young enthusiast?
HS: It’s a gifting culture in the Middle East: kids graduate and get a watch. Come that time, they know what they want. Parents come in and request a watch in two years’ time, for when they graduate. We encourage that because we know that’s the next generation of collectors.
JO: Outside of Horology Forum, how do you plan to spend your time in New York?
HS: I love New York! I don’t have time to do much, but I love walking around. I love walking around Soho and the Meatpacking District: you see different ways of retailing between Tudor, AP House, and Breitling soon. I just wish I was staying longer.