On the list of international trade shows in the watch world, Dubai Watch Week is one of few whose popularity and relevance continues to rise. Unlike the now-dead Baselworld and the reformatted and renamed Watches And Wonders (previously SIHH), the premier biennial event in Dubai is a breath of fresh air. Yes, brands still have their booths in which to display and present watches to both press and the general public, however that’s far from the show’s key selling feature.
Dubai Watch Week’s Director General, Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, summarizes the show as an educational, experiential, and networking event — based on my initial experience at the 2019 show this couldn’t be more accurate. Yes, anything watch related will still have a bit of a product hook, but this show delivers far more in terms of access and open dialogue between collectors, journalists, and global heads of some of the world’s best watch brands. It’s hard to say if this is because the pace of the show is less hectic than that of more traditional Swiss shows, or rather that the change in setting plays a part. Regardless, the end result is the ability to get up close and personal with the likes of Max Busser of MB&F, Fabrizio Buonamassa of Bvlgari, and François-Henry Bennahmias of Audemars Piguet, to name a few. All told, 50 watch brands will be in attendance at the show this year.
The real anchor of Dubai Watch Week comes in the form of its discussion panels. Moderated by a mix of notable industry figures and watch media alumni, several discussions are presented each day (from November 24th to 28th this year). These panels aren’t only for on-site attendees, as they will be live streamed on the Dubai Watch Week website, and will remain available for viewing on the organization’s YouTube page afterwards (for those who can’t handle the eight to 11-hour time difference). Some topics are more directly targeted at the collecting scene — for example, I love my Patek, what does it do?, which takes place on November 25th. At the other end of the spectrum, the year’s panels also include discussion on the use of cryptocurrency in the watch industry. There’s also a panel that looks at pinpointing exactly what luxury is doing to sustain environmental and social justice.
Beyond the panels, the Masterclass offerings of Dubai Watch Week are another big attraction for all attendees. Ever wonder what it’s like to bend a hairspring, or paint a watch dial? These are the types of things one can learn over the course of the show (and both are a lot harder than you might think). Primarily reserved for attendees from the general public, these classes are held in small groups and run by specialists in their respective fields — often from watch brands that many would be familiar with. This year’s calendar includes an assortment of watchmaking-focused courses, as well as a few that look at the overall watch design process.
Of course, we aren’t going to forget about the watches themselves at Dubai Watch Week this year. Each round of the event brings with it a smattering of limited edition releases from several brands. 2019’s hit list included brands like Moser, Ressence, MB&F, and several others. This year several watches have already been teased ahead of the show, including looming releases from Girard-Perregaux, Chopard, Greubel Forsey, Louis Erard, and more. There are also murmurs about a VERY big launch from MB&F, but we’ll have to keep that one under our hats until official word breaks.
The last piece of the puzzle that we’re especially looking forward to this year is the on-site presence of Rolex and Audemars Piguet. Both brands are building out large, dedicated spaces to showcase their newest wares. While we’re waiting on formal details, we’re fairly confident in what we can expect from Rolex. You see, the Seddiqi family — whose resources are responsible for putting this show together — are effectively the largest player in the luxury watch category in the Middle East, and the business of Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons has been working with Rolex for decades. To give you a sense of scale, the retail chain has over a dozen Rolex points of sale in and around Dubai alone. In 2019, the Rolex experience centre on site at Dubai Watch Week not only presented the brand’s current collection, but also a significant presentation of vintage Rolex models that had been made especially for clients within the region.
As of the 24th of November, we will have boots on the ground for the duration of this year’s events, and plan to bring our readers and followers an in-depth view into all things Dubai Watch Week. Readers can expect a recap of the launches to run on line, but in addition to this, we will be sharing a significant volume of hands-on and behind-the-scenes content directly from the event. If you don’t already, you’re going to want to make sure you’re following our @sharp.watch Instagram page.