Perpétuel: A Destination For Watch Lovers In Dubai Offering Cool, Accessible Limited Editions
There’s something new in Dubai. Something with the power and ability to bring people of the watch community together. And those who might just want to be part of the watch community. And, of course, those who are just looking for good watches.
Followers of the watch industry might have heard the name Melika Yazdjerdi before. As an employee of Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons for close to 12 years, the organization behind Dubai Watch Week, Yazdjerdi became senior director of marketing and communication as well as director of the beloved event.
A soft-spoken yet determined personality, Yazdjerdi left Seddiqi and Dubai Watch Week at the end of September 2020 and started a new professional venture the very next day.
“I wanted to start a different journey,” Yazdjerdi recently revealed to me during a Zoom call. “At the beginning I had so many different ideas of what I was going to be doing on my personal journey . . . I wanted to focus on the environment on sustainability, I wanted to do a lot of things around agriculture and food – and not that that has been forgotten, but sometimes destiny brings you different paths and different routes.”
Yazdjerdi joined forces with collector Hamdan Alhudaidi, and the two started the next chapter of watches in Dubai.
“At the end of the day, we want to do something that we are having fun with; it [doesn’t seem so much] like a job,” Yazdjerdi said with a smile on her face. And then we commenced talking about the duo’s two ventures: Ashfields and Perpétuel.
Ashfields and Perpétuel founders: Melika Yazdjerdi and Hamdan Alhudaidi
Ashfields was founded in July 2020, and Perpétuel followed in November 2020. The two companies are co-owned by Yazdjerdi, cofounder and chief strategist, and Alhudaidi, cofounder and chief executive.
To start this venture, Alhudaidi left a full-time job in the government that he had held for 17 years.
“Hamdan has spent the last 18 plus years educating himself on watches, and he’s still doing it three hours a week,” Yazdjerdi revealed. “He has an instructor that takes him through complications, movements, references, and brands. His love is vintage Patek Philippe, and that’s what he’s super passionate about. Anything vintage, really, but specifically vintage Patek Philippe.”
Yazdjerdi quite adamantly stressed that first and foremost Alhudaidi is a collector before anything else. “And that’s never going to change – we really capitalize on the knowledge that he has built as a collector and try to impart that wisdom when we look at other collectors and the way we’re collecting.”
Ashfields: first horology consultancy in the Middle East
Ashfields is about building experiences and developing strategies, whether that’s for individual collectors or for companies. Ashfields consults and strategizes in both B2B and B2C capacities.
Since October 2020, brands from the watch sector have sought out Yazdjerdi’s company and the expertise that comes with it. “In one particular case, it was a collection that was doing really well internationally but was not performing in [our] market. The HQ contacted us, and we advised them on the actual references and the collection.”
Yazdjerdi also explained that Ashfields gets involved in mergers and acquisitions, stating “and quite a few of them have happened over the past few months.” Of course, when it comes to things like that, Ashfields works with advisory firms and lawyers as this sort of thing is outside the jurisdiction of the duo’s expertise. “We’ve been involved in a couple of advisories in patents for the watch industry,” she explained.
Which took her to another project: a patent being filed within the writing instrument industry. “It’s a completely new technology,” she revealed.
“What’s also nice is that all the clients that come to us are referrals, and so sometimes we start with one project for them and then we get involved in doing so many other things for them. In one case, we were advising a collector, and now we’re helping them set up their business in the UAE and the DIFC.”
Ashfields also works in experiences, very much part of Yazdjerdi’s wheelhouse. “That’s something that is very much focused on end clients. And we don’t just do that for the horology sector, we do that for the entire luxury sector,” she revealed.
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has delayed some of this part of the business. “Hopefully we are going to hold our first one in September in Europe: a six-day course for a group of collectors. But we’re also giving them the opportunity to meet with other collectors from around the world, and we are taking them on something like a tour of different archaeological sites. We are trying to combine gastronomy, culture, art, and horology all into one. Again, the conversation is always about building relationships.”
Yazdjerdi then went on to describe a northern lights tour with two watchmakers from the Scandinavian region.
“And we are doing our first non-horology one next May, I think, in Italy where it’s the first time that this particular luxury fashion brand is actually doing this kind of experience,” she revealed.
Perpétuel: a brick-and-mortar location for everyone
Six months after founding Ashfields, Yazdjerdi and Alhudaidi spontaneously embarked upon a second leg of their journey by opening a gallery in the same hub as the Ashfields office: the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre).
“We looked at all the things we didn’t really like about how retail operates and we wanted to break away from that, almost like rebelling against the way things are done classically in the retail sense,” Yazdjerdi explained.
So the duo created some ground principles, including making sure it’s a space where people feel safe and where they can come to learn. “We just want people to come and hang out, we don’t really want them to come and buy anything,” she smiled.
Secondly, they wanted to make sure that accessibility is available for any limited editions. “Looking at the way things currently are within the watch industry, and I’m sure it’s the case with luxury in general, but specifically the watch industry, how can you become a collector if you’re never given the chance to collect? How can you become a client if you’re never given the chance to buy?”
Yazdjerdi stressed that waiting lists and lists only for existing clients aren’t part of Perpétuel’s strategy. “It’s a very strange oxymoron: you want to make somebody your client but you’re not giving them the opportunity to do so. And that’s something that we didn’t want to do.”
Additionally, the duo wants to make sure they also offer limited editions that are accessible and affordable.
At present, Perpétuel is a space that works by appointment “. . . because we don’t want the clients to feel like we have no time for them. We want them to book the schedule that’s good for them, so you, the client, are in charge of your time. When you come in, there’s a dedicated advisor to sit and have a conversation with you. You can talk about the weather, you can talk about your family, you can talk about whatever; it’s for us to get to know you so we can curate, like a gallery, anything that you want.”
Yazdjerdi stresses that the pieces recommended to clients – whether watches, jewelry, vintage pieces, art, or other collectibles – is curated for the client’s specific needs. “And the only way we can do that is if we have those conversations with you.”
Perpétuel also curates vintage watches.
Perpétuel’s watch collections
Yazdjerdi and Alhudaidi wanted to send out a message with Perpétuel’s first collaboration, which was with French brand Baltic in December 2020. This limited edition in honor of National Day of the United Arab Emirates was both accessible and relatively affordable. Featuring eastern Arabic numerals, the two models – HMS ($1,300) and Bicompax ($1,500) – offered in editions of 71 pieces each also featured the green dials typical of UAE-themed editions. The “71” commemorates the founding year of the UAE, 1971.
“And what was very surprising was that predominantly the clients who actually purchased the Baltic collection were collectors,” Yazdjerdi remarked. “I’m talking about collectors who have insane collections of super high-end watches or super-complicated watches. But they were looking for something fun and everyday that they can actually use.
“Honestly, we were overwhelmed with the response that we got. We had no idea when we started this journey that it was something that was lacking in the watch industry. We just wanted to create a conversation and a network between people, and we wanted to have fun doing it. It was almost like we opened this store and everyone’s like, ‘Where have you been?’”
The next limited edition collaboration involved micro brand Hoffman, which was offered in six variations, now all sold out. And again they were launched online on a first-come, first-served basis.
“And that’s something super important,” Yazdjerdi stressed. “Because when limited edition pieces are created, you often recycle within the same pool of clients. Outsiders are never given the chance to acquire these limited edition pieces. For us, everything gets uploaded onto the website and it’s first come, first serve so everyone has an opportunity to acquire these pieces. Our site crashed on the Hoffman launch because within the first one hour we had 105,000 visitors.”
Krayon for Perpétuel
The latest collaboration Perpétuel has embarked upon is with Krayon – which is a whole different price class than the Baltic or Hoffman watches and foreshadows things yet to come.
“Every single brand that we work with has to be independent, whether it’s big independent or micro independent. We want to have a portfolio of brands that cater to the different needs of our clients,” Yazdjerdi explained.
A 15-piece limited edition of Krayon’s Anywhere model inspired by the deserts surrounding Dubai, this timepiece in stainless steel features eastern Arabic numerals and desert sunset-inspired hues on the dial and strap.
Krayon launched in 2017 and in 2018 already won the Innovation category at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
That win was for the brand’s first creation, Everywhere, a highly complex timepiece indicating the times of sunrise and sunset everywhere in the world. It also displays month, day, longitude, latitude, and UTC alongside the time. The Anywhere model, which appeared three years later, is a more simplified version indicating the length of day and times of sunrise and sunset using a customized geographical location.
The 15 pieces for Perpétuel are customized for each client because of the geographical location desired that is the base for the sunrise/sunset functionality. Perpétuel is also giving its clients the option between eastern Arabic and western Arabic numerals.
Stay tuned for upcoming collaborations from Perpétuel – I guarantee they will be worth watching out for.
For more information, please visit www.perpetuel.com.
Quick Facts Krayon Anywhere
Case: 39 x 9.5 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Caliber C030 with 432 components, 86-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; sunset and sunrise times, month, date, 24-hour indication
Price: in the neighborhood of CHF 96,000