Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
November is always a busy month in Dubai. As temperatures fall to a frigid 77°F (25°C), events start to pop up across the city. There’s something for everyone, from design exhibitions to trade shows. One such event is Dubai Watch Week, a 5-day spectacle celebrating the watch industry. Visitors and the press are invited to learn all about watches and enjoy some fantastic entertainment. There are great panel discussions, various presentations, and many watch releases. This year marked the fourth edition of DWW. The whole thing is organized by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, the region’s largest retailer of luxury watches. I was fortunate enough to attend 2 years ago, and was excited to return in 2019. Even though I’ve missed two DWWs, I’ve still been able to witness its incredible growth first hand.
If you’ve never been to Dubai Watch Week, let me paint a picture for you: The event takes place in the heart of downtown Dubai at the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), very close to the Dubai Mall and Business Bay. The organizers erect a number of temporary buildings around DIFC’s “The Gate” building, the center of Dubai’s financial district. This year, DWW had close to 10 different pop-up buildings. There was the Horology Forum, which housed all the panels; the Creative Hub, where we saw presentations and watch releases; and the Exhibition Hall, where brands could display their timepieces. What’s more, there were pop-up restaurants, an area for watchmaking workshops, and a designated zone for some of the event’s main partners, including Chopard, Rolex, and Christie’s.
The attendees mainly came from one of two groups: locals (DWW is open to the public) and invited guests like press, watchmakers, brands, and panelists. For members of the press, the days were rather packed. We visited a number of panel talks, and the Creative Hub always had multiple things going on (for example, Hublot launched a Classic Fusion exclusively for the Dubai market). Select watchmakers also held watchmaking courses. There was never a dull moment. We were able to reconnect with friends from across the industry. DWW invited press from both print and online media, video creators, and beyond. Our fellow journalists came from all over the world to represent the most prominent publications.
For the average visitor, Dubai Watch Week is mostly about the timepieces. Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons carries most of the brands on display. This includes many independent companies like F.P. Journe, Ressence ,Armin Strom, and Singer. Of course, larger names like Panerai, IWC, Hublot, and Bvlgari were also on hand. If you want to know more about Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons’ impressive catalog, click here. As the industry’s most prominent event in the Middle East, a few special editions were released in celebration of the region and its relationship with timepieces. These include the Singer Reimagined Track 1 Emirates Edition, the Hublot Classic Fusion Special Edition Bronze Anticlockwise, and a beautiful Octo with a green dial from Bvlgari. We also saw the new HYT H5. This watch has no direct connection to Dubai outside of making its debut there.
Apart from seeing so many amazing timepieces, Dubai Watch Week also offers some great insights into the industry’s inner workings. There were panels on a wide range of topics that featured people from both inside and outside the watch industry. Luckily, DWW uploads every panel to their website, so you can watch them in full here. One of the most enjoyable panels was a talk with none other than Jean-Claude Biver, Non-Executive President of the LVMH Watch Division. Director of Dubai Watch Week, Melika Yazdjerdi, conducted the interview. At the age of 71, Biver still has a spring in his step. While he won’t be stopping anytime soon, he’s happy to share his wisdom with the younger generation. It was an honor to have been there in person.
Dubai Watch Week will return in 2021. However, Dubai is hosting Expo 2020, and it’s possible that DWW might put on a smaller event a the same time. We hope to be there and report on it like we did this year and two years ago. I’ll also mention that everyone I talked to during my stay agreed that Dubai Watch Week is just what the industry needs right now. It’s not about the location (though I admit it was great to get away from cold and gloomy Germany); it’s much more about the relaxed atmosphere and the ability to meet, talk to, and network with people from the industry. Whether it’s in 2020 or 2021, we plan to be at the next installment.