United Arab Emirates- a country whose ethos is inextricably anchored in history and traditions, and whose utopian vision is strong, aspirational, and technologically innovative–just like some of our beloved watch brands. 2021 marks the country’s 50th anniversary.
The UAE is an established market with refined preferences, favouring Haute Horlogerie and famous watchmaking organisations. However, bespoke works, custom orders, and extremely limited series — not to mention extraordinary one-off requests–are immensely popular in the country. It’s also a market for collectors with their styles, who may request unique finishes or other distinguishing qualities from brands.
Since 1950, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, as Curators of Time, have played a key role in shaping the UAE as a worldwide horology centre, developing the awareness and expertise of fine watchmaking, and bringing the world’s greatest watchmaking brands to the region. For the UAE’s 50th anniversary, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons have unveiled a collection of over 35 limited edition timepieces and jewellery pieces. An internal think tank directed by Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi, chief commercial officer at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, explored concepts and the design of the pieces with 15 people from across the organisation.
Let’s have a look at the top 8 watches that stood out from this collection:
1. Louis Moinet “Al Sarraj Astrolabe UAE Celebration
This remarkable watch is based on Ahmad Ibn Al Sarraj’s 14th-century invention, which is one of the most advanced astronomical creations from the Islamic era.
In 2014, the initial iteration of this watch was unveiled at Baselworld. A recreation of the historic instrument for measuring the movement of the stars over the night sky, the Astrolabe is depicted by a double flat projection. From roughly the eighth century A.D., it was commonly employed by Arabian astronomers. The time is kept by using astronomical observations.
Louis Moinet created a limited-edition series of 12 Al Sarraj astrolabes that are identical to the originals created by Ahmad Ibn Al-Sarraj in the 14th century and on display at the Benaki Museum in Athens. The original watch included a tourbillon, but Seddiqi & Sons’ distinctive new version has been fully rebuilt.
2. H. Moser et Cie Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept Erythro
Moser & Cie. drew inspiration from one color of the United Arab Emirates flag. It offers a limited-edition timepiece with rubies for the first time on its legendary dials. H. Moser & Cie. has collaborated with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons to create a timepiece that will attract collectors thanks to its distinct visual language that instantly identifies it as the work of this independent watchmaker.
It features no logo or indices and is a notably sleek reinvention of the brand’s values that eliminates mention of the trademark and simplifies the aesthetic down to the absolutely, gloriously minimalist. The minimalist purity of the design, a real manifestation of ‘less is more’ luxury, is highlighted by its exquisite fumé dials – a stunning visual pillar–and ruby, a symbol of devotion, generosity, and passion.
The HMC 200 in-house movement has a regulating organ made by Precision Engineering AG, H. Moser & Cie’s sister business, housed inside its 40 mm steel casing. The calibre HMC 200 features a big engraved gold oscillating weight and is decorated with the renowned Moser double stripes. Only 20 of them will be produced. Because the dials are made entirely of natural minerals, each one will be one-of-a-kind.
3. Bovet 19thirty Fleurier Limited Edition
The limited-edition Bovet 19Thirty Fleurier stands out and gleams as it reflects the sophistication and perfection of the UAE’s Year of the Fiftieth. The clock is the epitome of watchmaking perfection, with a hand-decorated dial, ergonomic 42mm case, exhibition caseback, and hand-wound movement. The sapphire cabochon that adorns the crown emphasises its outstanding elegance, while the contrasting thread on the strap creates a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
4. Perpetual Calendar by Frederique Constant
Frederique Constant and Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons decided to broaden it beyond “simply” colour. It is, in reality, Frederique Constant’s first watch (case and band) made of lightweight titanium.
It has a diameter of 41mm and matches the rest of the Highlife collection’s designs and finishes. The dial is finished in a Pantone 321 turquoise blue that was inspired by run-off areas of the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit in Abu Dhabi and resembles the Gulf’s particular shade of blue. Dark grey sub-dials for the perpetual calendar display add a bit of distinction. The dial’s central portion is always adorned with a globe ornament.
The FC-775 manufacture calibre can be seen through the caseback. This automatic movement was designed in-house and comprises a base calibre with a QP module on top. A special inscription on the rotor commemorates the UAE’s fiftieth anniversary.
5. De Bethune “UAE HAWK”
The De Bethune anniversary edition for the Year of the Fiftieth collection is an affectionate tribute to the nation’s past and is a true depiction of the UAE. The colour, dubbed “UAE Hawk,” is based on national colours, while the signature lugs glide forward and across italicised numerals, including a distinguishing “50.” The watch is finished with an etched “Year of the Fiftieth” insignia on the case back, a nod to the Union’s spirit.
6. Hublot Classic Fusion Concrete Sand
The Classic Fusion Concrete Sand is encased in a 45mm case with a matching bezel, both made out of fine concrete, with minute features inspired by UAE towns’ edges and framework. It was designed and produced at the Hublot Manufacture in Switzerland. Hardworking concrete is renowned for its durability and strength.
The dial incorporates genuine sand from the UAE, making each piece unique and inspired by the country’s vast deserts. The straps are constructed of premium camel leather and match the watch’s appealing colour scheme.
7. WestEnd “The Formation”
The association with West End for Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons began with their late grandfather, Ahmed Qassim Seddiqi, and West End’s founder’s enthusiasm for watches. He liked to get watches from Kuwait and flaunt them to his neighbours and friends. People finally bought these watches from him, and the connection with the business flourished.
They feel a connection to the brand now that second, third, and fourth-generation family members have joined the company, as it represents the beginning of Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and how the company has grown over the years. This was one of the stepping stones on the way to Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, being the UAE’s most prominent watch and jewellery retailer. The watch has Indian-Arabic numbers, and an engraved caseback with the year of the fiftieth. Each watch is given a unique number. Only 100 pieces are available in this limited edition.
8. Sarpaneva “Unity” and “Freedom”
The colours of the United Arab Emirates are honoured in two eye-catching versions. Independent watchmaker Stephan Sarpaneva, a Finnish watchmaker specialising in individually hand-crafted, complicated timepieces with the motto ‘not for everyone,’ has created a red dialled ‘Unity’ edition and a green dialled ‘Freedom’ edition to honour the country’s 50-year legacy while nodding to its future.
Each of these watches, which have a 42mm diameter thanks to a DLC-stainless steel case forged by Finland’s renowned steel company Outokumpu, has honoured the UAE and highlighted its status as a cultural hub for craftsmanship and horology. Sarpaneva’s two watches, which combine watchmaking traditions with an avant-garde approach to design, are sure to be discussion starters for the lucky collectors who get their hands on one.
With many other striking and conversation-starter timepieces, the UAE market holds high regard for watchmaking legends and high complexity. However, as time goes on, the youth of today is becoming more aware of different niche brands that provide good quality while adopting a less conventional approach. It’s lovely to see the watchmaking fraternity come together to celebrate this monumental day.