The Magic Of Dubai Watch Week 2016
After just two editions, Dubai Watch Week has already worked its way high onto my list of horologically inclined events. The reason is simple: the organizers of this show, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, have set out to make Dubai Watch Week more of a cultural exchange on the topic of watches than a hard sales event.
In other words, Dubai Watch Week’s main premise is promoting high-end watchmaking in the Middle East and exchanging opinions and ideas rather than sell, sell, sell (though I am certain that selling comes relatively easily as a side effect of the relaxed atmosphere and inspiring conversations).
This year’s event was much bigger than the inaugural 2015 show. Two new happenings included the “Mastery of Time” exhibition by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and “24 Hours in the Life of a Swiss Cuckoo Clock” curated by Alexandra Midal and staged by students and staff of the Geneva art school HEAD. Both of these took place in the gargantuan Dubai Mall near the section with the luxury watch boutiques.
But most of the highly personal event takes place at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which the organizers have turned into something of an outside fair. Here participants, panelists, lecturers, watchmakers, organizers, and brand representatives mingled in the relaxed atmosphere of the autumn Dubai sun, shielded from the heat by the shade thrown from the buildings.
And what a pleasant atmosphere it was! Beginning the day, for example, I could come out to the refreshment area for breakfast, sit with any number of watchmakers, brand luminaries, collectors, watch aficionados, and journalists also enjoying the atmosphere, and talk about anything from the weather to serious watchmaking.
And this was not only reserved for media and panel participants; locals had the same opportunity to approach any number of watchmaking personalities and strike up conversations.
Or I could peruse the watch exhibitions, handling any number of rare delicacies such as the Romain Gauthier Logical One and carry on conversations with their makers or representatives.
The master classes headed up by famous watchmakers were so popular that extra sessions were added as the week progressed.
The master classes included the hands-on opportunity to be guided through a technical part of a watch, led by horological stars including Andreas Strehler, Vianney Halter, Philippe Dufour (talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!), and even IWC’s Kurt Klaus (ditto!).
The panels presented another opportunity to interact with prominent luxury industry figures and were likewise quite popular. And not only local watch enthusiasts took part; I noticed that many of my colleagues from the press attended nearly all of panels in an effort to broaden horizons and exchange ideas.
And the new “creative hubs” were also part of the 2016 edition of Dubai Watch Week: these informal gatherings in a comfortable setting allowed media and other participants to take part in a variety of brand presentations.
In particular, those brands with new timepieces launching at the show (see 7 Sensational Watches Introduced At Dubai Watch Week 2016) used this opportunity to provide some backdrop and explanation in the intimate setting.
I’m already looking forward to the 2017 edition!
For more information, please visit www.dubaiwatchweek.com.
Also published on Medium.