In the very long months of the pandemic – as any other sector – the luxury industry and the watch brands have been coping with virtual presentations and online product launches. Of course everyone is keen to return to the live events, real personal discussions and not-on-the-Zoom connections. The Dubai Watch Week welcomed a great number of visitors in the sunny and warm Dubai November.
The Dubai Watch Week is a fine watchmaking event, founded in 2015 by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons – a retailer representing more than 75 horology and jewellery brands in the region. As Hind Adbul Hamied Seddiqi, the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Seddiqi Holding and General Director of Dubai Watch Week sums up – ‘our goal is to create an educational, experiential, and networking event like no other’.
The 2021 edition of DWW
This May, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons confirmed that the Dubai Watch Week returns in 2021 with a physical event and later announced that 50+ brand would participate – a record number so far. Among the exhibitors you can find brands like Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Chopard or Hublot and many niche and collectors’ favourites, like F.P. Journe, Ferdinand Berthoud, De Bethune, H. Moser & Cie. or MB&F.
The 5th edition took place from 24 – 28 November, at The Gate, Dubai International Financial Centre. Dubai Watch Week is dedicated to showing the most interesting aspects of fine watchmaking to a broader audience.
The event includes the Creative Hub with numerous limited-edition watch reveals or the Horology Forum. The latter is a great concept – panel-led discussions within and outside of the watch industry with renowned leaders from their respective fields. There are master craftsmen, brand CEOs, authors, important collectors or historians among the line up.
Another distinguished initiative are the DWW masterclasses, which are hands-on workshops where artisans from different areas of watchmaking introduce their craft to the participants. This year visitors were able to test their steady hands at a miniature painting workshop with Bovet Fleurier, discover a mechanical movement with master watchmaker Florian Preziuso, create a linocut print with Fiona Krüger or immerse themselves in the colourful world of Murano glass watch dials.
The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie Genève (GPHG), the prestigious celebration of fine watchmaking, celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021. All the winners were unveiled on Thursday November 4 during a festive gala ceremony in Geneva. The Special Jury Prize, which rewards a personality or an influential institution on the watchmaking scene, was won this year by the Dubai Watch Week and the Seddiqi & Sons retail chain as organisers. So – as part of the program – the 2021 award-winning watches are presented during Dubai Watch Week, from November 24 – 28, and then in Paris from December 2 – 5.
Christie’s at DWW 2021
Christie’s – founded in 1766 in London and one of the most well-known auction houses in the world – is a partner of DWW and offers an exciting series of expert lectures, exhibitions showcasing highlights of upcoming global watch sales and activities to the audience. Christie’s has an office in the Dubai International Financial Centre, dealing with Contemporary and Middle Eastern Art since 2006 and stand-alone Important Watch sales since 2013. This year Christie’s had two online sales in Dubai – one from 24 March – 8 April and the other 13-27 October. As Remy Julia (Head of Watches, Middle East, India, Africa, Russia at Christie’s and Committee Member of Dubai Watch Week) says – ‘The Dubai Edit online auction is a game-changer. Never in the history of watch auctions has a 100% online event offered timepieces of such quality, be they modern or vintage.’
In 2021 the Christie’s booth at the Dubai Watch Week gave place to talks about art (like the one with Suzy Sikorski, a Middle East art specialist in Post War & Contemporary art) and watch collecting. Ali Nael, watch collector, trader and founder of 2tonevintage; Remy Julia and Nitin Nair from Christie’s; Max Bernardini, Vintage Watch Dealer & Collector shared moments from their immersive experiences in the exciting world of vintage watches.
Maybe the most interesting talk was the one with Eric Tortella, watch expert & Patek Philippe scholar and Sandro Fratini. Mr Fratini is an Italian entrepreneur and owns more than 2,000 highly desirable watches (including very rare pieces). ‘My story is a love story of watches’ – as he shares some great examples of celebrated vintage Patek Philippe and Rolex wristwatches, mid-century Audemars Piguet, Vacheron & Constantin and Cartier watches. In November 2018 he launched his book, titled ‘My Time’ featuring 650 horological masterworks from Fratini’s collection. His stories about travelling and finding the watches, purchasing them from auctions, dealers or kind of ‘by accident’ reveal ‘… the most important thing is to choose the ones you really like and not worry about market value.’