Although the much awaited Dubai Watch Week turns 5 this year, the Seddiqi family’s association and contribution to the world of fine watchmaking goes way back – a business that traces its roots to 60 years back. The first Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons shop was located in Bur Dubai. As business grew, the Ahmed Seddiqi & sons retail presence expanded from a single shop in Dubai’s souk to a formidable network of elegant stores. From the first franchise agreement signed with West End Watch Co. in 1949 to opening the world’s largest Rolex boutique 2018, the journey of one man’s passion translating to the empire the family has built today is simply admirable.
Hind Seddiqi, the first woman to join the Seddiqi Holding executive board, has clearly acquired her father’s passion for timepieces: Abdul Hamied Seddiqi – the second-generation leader of the Middle Eastern luxury business, while Hind is the chief marketing and communication officer. In an industry that is perceived as male-dominated, she is a key opinion leader and the driving force of one of the most awaited watch industry events – Dubai Watch Week.
Unlike a contemporary watch salon, Dubai Watch Week has no clear business component as such. The timepieces are on display for watch hobbiest and avid enthusiasts and the watchmakers too are accessible to their customers. A feat we don’t witness too often in an industry that thrives on snob value! The Seddiqi family’s explicit purpose is to further enhance the awareness of the craftsmanship that is horology. Having conceptualized four successful editions with the fifth one just around the corner, this year Dubai Watch Week was even recognised and acknowledged at the Oscars of fine watchmaking – GPHG, wherein they won a special Jury award for being an influential institution in the watchmaking scene and rightly so.
We caught up with the elegant and outspoken advocate of the true passion of fine watchmaking, Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi on the evolution of Dubai Watch Week and how this family business led her to expand new horizons.
On strengths and challenges faced in a family business
“Every business has challenges- family business having many more. It’s a thin line one treads between business and personal life, so being diplomatic is key”. says Hind. The Seddiqi family keeps the two areas at an arm’s length which in turn allows them to grow as a business and a family. Even when it comes to allocating watches to the family members, the Seddiqi’s follow a stringent rule of customers first! She emphasizes on the fact that being in Dubai certainly has aided the growth of the business. From the geographical advantage to the support from the local leaders, Hind attributes a large part of their success to the progressive nature of Dubai.
The Seddiqi Family
On the art of fine watchmaking and gender-specific watches
Hind reiterates that some brands do need a wake-up call and they need to understand that women are coming forward in the watch industry, both as customers and key-opinion leaders alike. They are aware of the technicalities of watchmaking and are keen to know more. “There are some watches that actually need to be categorised as women watches that we usually wear at weddings. Small, full pave diamond watches are really feminine, so what is the harm in categorising them as a women’s watches. I think it’s ok to categorise watches but not overgeneralise and create gender-specific watches. Honestly, I don’t like to play the gender card. It’s an industry where we want people to appreciate the craftsmanship and leave the gender bit out of it!”, says Hind.
In fact at the Dubai Watch Week 2019, Hind herself adorned the breathtaking MB&F Flying-T on her wrist, which surely made a lot of heads turn. Sharing her views on this watch and the complications in a watch, she said that women love complications and understand it too. It’s a conversation starter all across the globe. Women, especially in the UAE have changed their buying patterns for watches. They indulge in unique watches rather than impulse buying. The hunger for mechanical watches is an upward growth trend.
What can we look forward to at Dubai Watch Week 2021?
Although the format remains the same with the exhibition of the brands, the Horological Forums, the Creative Hub and the Masterclasses, Dubai Watch Week 2021 will host a new watch collectors corner, a sacred yet casual space for watch hobbiest to unwind and delve deeper into brands and watches per say. This, just like everything at Dubai Watch Week is open to all.
To add the wow factor, in some masterclasses people, who may be intimated by the actual art of fine-watchmaking can indulge in various crafts such as miniature painting, engraving, and others that are involved in watch-making.
Rolex, the crowning jewel of the world of watches is set to come back at the exhibition, an association in which the Seddiqi family takes pride. Besides a plethora of brands that will be exhibited at the show, Dubai Watch Week will also see various brands on display outside the exhibition tent.
Dubai Watch Week 2021 is a holistic experience for watch enthusiasts, seasoned collectors and even the newbies on a global front. Apart from the many masterclasses, forums, and creative activities that it hosts, it is a pure celebration of the passion of fine watchmaking – an actual treat to the senses.
Independent watchmakers and their growth: Dubai Watch Week 2021
Since its inception, the theme of Dubai Watch Week has always been ‘rebels of time’. Although the show will exhibit various renowned contemporary brands, the Seddiqi’s have always supported and given independent watchmakers a strong platform to exhibit their skills and expertise. Since many of the ‘Indies’ don’t come with the “larger group” budgets, the Seddiqi family takes it up a notch by even sponsoring some brands that have unique watches. From creating affordable stands to hosting soiree’s, Dubai Watch Week aims to bridge the gap between independent watchmakers and the collectors’ buying decisions.
Just as we have mentioned before, this much-awaited horological event of the year hosted by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, is not just another watch event, but a platform for seasoned collectors and enthusiasts alike to connect, evolve and enhance their knowledge about this fascinating world of watches. From Masterclasses to the Horological Forums and Creative Hubs, Dubai Watch Week fosters an impressive amalgamation of the watch industry, just like it is.
Watch the entire interview with Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi here.
Register for Dubai Watch Week 2021here.