Interview: Hind Seddiqi Talks The Present And Future Of Dubai Watch Week
We sat down with the Director General of Dubai Watch Week Hind Seddiqi to talk about the 2019 edition and the future of the horological showcase.
As Seddiqi Holding's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Hind Seddiqi oversees many aspects at the established retailer, but another critical task she manages is the organization and execution of Dubai Watch Week.
For the fourth time, Dubai Watch Week is underway at Dubai's International Finance Center (DIFC). This biennial show is bigger than ever, and much of this expansion can be credited to Hind Seddiqi.
Watchonista has previously profiled the two women in charge of Dubai Watch Week (read HERE), but today we sit down with Hind Seddiqi for a special discussion about this year’s edition and the future of the show.
Interview with Hind Seddiqi
During the show, we had the opportunity to speak with Hind Seddiqi. What followed was an enlightening conversation about the past, present, and future of the show, along with some fascinating insights about how Dubai Watch Week blazes a new trail.
Alexander Friedman: Hind, Thank You so much for having Watchonista at Dubai Watch Week. I've been here since the first one, and it's incredible. For 2019, you’ve done something awe-inspiring, in terms of organization, it's welcoming, it's unique, and it's growing. If you looked back at the last edition in 2017, what things were you most looking forward to adding or changing, and how did you come to the 2019 concept?
Hind Seddiqi: When we first started (in 2015), the first edition was only independent watch brands. At the time, we showcased these brands, and we had the rebels of time exhibition and collaboration with GPHG.
(Hind continues): The idea of Dubai Watch Week came about from the factory tours that we give to our clients. Every year, we fly five or six groups to Geneva - to visit the manufacture to see how watches are made. After these trips, the feedback we got from our clients was mind-blowing.
But, we can't fly everyone to Geneva, so we said let's bring the things that people need to see to Dubai. And that's when we started with Dubai Watch Week.
AF: After almost five years, how have you seen the show progress?
HS: As the years progressed, and we didn't want it to be commercial, everybody thought that the moment Seddiqi had their hands in it, it's going to be a commercial thing. But we never wanted it to be commercial, and I don't think we have it in the pipeline to think about making it commercial. The reason why we are making this platform is to bring people together - people from the industry together. They need to sit and discuss issues that are arising. Watchmakers need to meet the people who are wearing their watches because all they see in the press are the spokespeople that the brands were hiring. Now it's changing.
AF: And this year at the Horology Forum, you have some very interesting speakers. The panels are always a highlight: how has this evolved?
HS: We started very conservatively with the Horology Forum. And today, we are talking about very daring topics because people are ready to listen, and they understand what the Horology Forum is and why we are doing it. We couldn't discuss the issues we were talking about at this year’s edition five years ago. So we had to take baby steps to get to where we are today.
AF: So, what do you plan for the horology forum?
HS: The horology forum is going to go out and continue its international tour in 2020. We must take it outside. In 2018, we went to London, and it was terrific to bring the watch industry and especially people from England together.
Overall, we need to spread the word. We need to attract new people. If I am going to target the same people every year, for me, it does nothing, I need a new crowd of people, I need to highlight a new crowd, I need to find new watchmakers or aspiring watchmakers, or people who feel they can do more and all they need is a little bit of support. That's the mandate of the horology forum, so we need to go and attract a new circle of audience.
AF: It might be too soon to talk about it, but what can we expect at the 2021 edition of Dubai Watch Week?
HS: 2021 is also going to be very different, very daring. The fifth edition is going to be very different. By the fifth edition, if people don't know what Dubai Watch Week is and its mandate is, there is a problem. We want the brands to come out of their comfort zones. I will not say too much, but it's going to be different because it's going to be the fifth edition, and now the brands understand. They've been with us for five years, so it's about time that we change the way things are done. And we hope that convincing them is going to be easier for 2021.
AF: I have a question regarding the next generation. It makes me smile when you see all these kids at the Christie’s mock auction. How do you involve the next generation of collectors?
HS: We have a lot of young people, like 16 years old and above, from the region, from the UAE, who are crazy about watches. They know more about watches than sometimes me.
And this generation, they're a YouTube generation, so for them, YouTube is very important, and when you ask them how do you know about this? It's usually, “I watched the YouTube video.” Why are you interested? “Oh, because this ex-football player was wearing it, and I wanted to know what he's wearing.” So, they're still attracted to who’s wearing the watch, and then they get into learning about the watch, and then they get hooked. It interests them. And they aspire, and they dream of owning crazy, crazy watches.
HS: WatchBox Studios is here, and it's one of the channels that this generation is following, and they like the style of the videos. That's why WatchBox Studios is here, and Tim Mosso is like a celebrity, everyone is looking for him. We didn't expect that people from the region would know who Tim is, so for us to bring an element of a studio or a channel that this youth is following was very important as well. And we were delighted that WatchBox also felt the same, they felt ready to come. It's one of the ways we want to attract the new generation.
AF: Important question, what watch do you have on?
HS: I have a Patek Philippe ref. 7175R world timer that I purchased around the 175th anniversary of the brand. I haven't even set the time yet. I had an interview to show my favorite watches, and it was very difficult. It's always one of those tricky things to do when they ask you to bring your favorite watch. It depends on the mood, and it depends on what you've recently bought. Sometimes you remember you have a certain watch, and you feel nostalgic. This one is special because I never thought they'd allow me to buy it.
AF: Why is that?
HS: Because we always put our clients first. So for this one, I had to use a bit of charm.
AF: It sounds like there are a lot of watches that you want
HS: Of course! I mean listen, I stopped going to the logistics – where we receive deliveries - I stopped going because every time I went, I'd go, "Oh, this is my next buy. Oh no, this is my next buy. Oh no, this is my next buy. Oh no, this is," and I thought that if this is what I'm going to do, then I'm never going to buy anything else. Mohammed (Seddiqi) would call and say, "Come on, a new shipment is here. Come and see." And I was like, "I don't want to come anymore. My list just keeps growing!"
(Photography by Dubai Watch Week, Watchonista, and Cihan ÖZDAMAR)