For the third year running, Dubai Watch Week brings a welcome ray of sunshine to the watch industry in this month of November. The Seddiqi group’s vision remains unchanged: to make this non-commercial event a knowledge-sharing platform for the watch community.
The event has grown considerably in just two years, and this autumn sees it take things up a level, with a specially built facility on the attractive terraces of the DIFC (and nothing is done by halves in Dubai…). Some new brands are joining the party, bringing an additional layer of gravitas: A. Lange & Sohne, Dior, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Richard Mille, Vacheron Constantin and Voutilainen, to mention just a few. And, as for every year since 2015, there’s also a well-thought out and comprehensive programme of forums, workshops and events.
For 2017, the theme of the 16-20 November forum will be “Classic and Contemporary”. We’re looking forward to hearing more about what millennials are doing for the industry, in a panel discussion featuring Alexis Georgacopoulos, Director of Art & Design at ECAL and Kurt Klaus of IWC, and listening to Fabrizio Buonamassa, director of Bulgari’s watch design centre, talk about discoveries and inventions: Paul O’Neil (WorldTempus) will also be debating counterfeit culture with Mohammed Seddiqi.
The revival of classical craftsmanship and contemporary techniques will be the focus of the main DWW 2017 exhibition. © Dubai Watch Week
Six-figure cost tags are a dime a dozen over the display floor. When I first saw the new Master Control Date with a business dial at Jaeger-LeCoultre’s stall, I knew I needed to get a time with it on my wrist, but once every conversation I had with journalists, collectors, and other business friends kept coming back into some $5,700 time-and-date watch, I knew we had something special on our hands.Openworked tourbillons and decimal striking watches are excellent, sure, but when we are being honest, they are show pieces over anything else. Very few will ever be made, and very few will ever actually be worn out-and-about. I am not saying I don’t like these kinds of watches — I find them endlessly interesting and lust-worthy — just that I find watches like this Jaeger-LeCoultre far more compelling in the end. The thought was to make a line of watches which represented the worth of pure, classic watchmaking, with a focus on simple aesthetics, functionality, understated technology, and long-term performance. Together with the initial assortment of watches, Jaeger-LeCoultre started its “1,000 Hours Control” quality test program, which topics finished watches to a six-week program of evaluations. This includes impacts, temperature changes, motion through six positions, water resistance, and more — it’s all pretty standard stuff now (though six months is a lot of time for something like that), but in 1992 that was essentially unheard of.
There will be open and wide-ranging discussions on the evergreen themes of customisation, technology, e-commerce and counterfeiting by brand leaders, collectors and media. Laurence Nicolas, who chairs Dior’s watch department (and who rarely speaks in public) will tackle the issue of design, while Julien Tornare, Zenith CEO, will explain the importance of marketing in plotting a brand’s rebirth. The outspoken journalist Suzanne Wong and Audemars Piguet CEO François Henry Bennahmias will debate the question: “Are grand complications a men-only club?”
This year the DWW will also provide an opportunity to extend the annual celebration of the GPHG, with timepieces arriving straight from Geneva after the ceremony. Delegates will also have chance to share the excitement of the sale room in an auction workshop led by Christie’s, dive into a mechanical movement with legendary watchmakers, and to learn the art of engraving, enamelling and miniature painting with master craftsmen. Members of the public will have completely free access to the “Classic & Contemporary”, GPHG and “Telling the Time” exhibitions in the DIFC and Dubai Mall throughout the week.
All you need is your plane ticket, and your local guide is sure to show you where to find the best street food.