Her day-to-day responsibilities include marketing and planning for her family’s business, more like an empire now, which began as a single watch store but has since expanded into other retail sectors. But, she is best known as the driving force of Dubai Watch Week. She is none other than Hind Seddiqi.
Dubai Watch Week was her brainchild after hearing from satisfied customers who had visited Swiss watchmaking facilities. Although it only began in 2015, this non-commercial networking event has already attracted the industry’s top watchmakers to the Middle East.
Instead of holding the event in Dubai, it was decided to bring the somewhat mysterious world of exquisite watchmaking to the region by inviting its watchmakers and executives there. Seddiqi’s alternative concept for a platform that concentrates on sharing experiences, creating a community, and disseminating knowledge is nothing short of astounding and has quickly become one of the watchmaking world’s most awaited event.
Our Founder, Karishma Karer at The Hour Markers, caught up with Hind Sediqqi to discuss the Dubai Watch Week Forum shift to New York and more!
THM: An obvious question and one that’s been the talk of the town. What was the thought behind hosting the horology forum in New York and how was it?
Hind Seddiqi: Since we decided to have a gap year between the Dubai Watch Week event, we thought it was unfair to stop the horology forum. More than continuing it, we wanted to take it abroad with the aim of not only promoting Dubai Watch Week and making people aware of the work we do and what it’s all about, but also tap into the watchmaking industry of the cities we go into. The first time we went to London and we tapped British watchmakers. Back then, no one was talking about them and our aim was to put them in the spotlight.
Next, we chose New York because we needed a city where people could actually attend the forum; others having the looming COVID scare. What we realised when we chose New York and through our research was the large appetite of watch collectors here and that it had the largest market for watches. There’s always something happening here. With America being such an innovative country, we wanted to tap into where they stood with watches. It’s not necessary to contribute to the industry solely through watches but can be via solving problems that the industry faces with the science America has.
THM: Talk us through the new format you introduced at the New York Forum.
Hind Seddiqi: We introduced a new format, which was in the form of a debate because it felt very apt in America. Looking at the success, we are looking to carry it to Dubai next year and bring it to the show. The response was great despite the weekend and the crowd had young energy as well as several watch collectors.
THM: With various panels and debates being held, from a brand perspective do you feel they are being compelled to be transparent about their transactions, watchmaking and various other activities?
Hind Seddiqi: Yes. The industry has certainly changed. Even how journalists react to posts on social media about this industry is different today. You have new blood even with journalists in the watch industry and they come with a very different perspective. They want to bring different know-how to this industry which was very closed and revolves around the same people. With this young generation of writers, bloggers and content creators, the questions and content will change and how brands address these questions will also have an impact. Dubai Watch Week showed brands that it’s about time to change and open up about things you do not push out in your press releases. You need to broaden up the topics you speak about if you want to attract more clients. Today the media is king!
THM: Moving on, congratulations on being part of the GPHG Jury. It’s amazing to see more women with strong opinions and voices taking such positions. How was your experience being part of the jury and the voting process?
Hind Seddiqi: It was a very interesting experience. I felt the weight of the responsibility from the moment I started researching the watches. There are so many brands out there we don’t know about and that which may actually be good, maybe even better than the known ones. Playing an objective role and not being bias is very difficult, but it was a good experience. The awards set a standard for what the consumers want and has a big impact on the industry. When you go into the room full of jury members, you really need to know what you are talking about because they skew your opinion. You need to ask the right questions. It was a great experience meeting the jury members from varied backgrounds – journalists, collectors, watchmakers, retailers, etc. They look at watches from such different perspectives.
THM: Do you feel there are brands or certain watches that are under-rated or don’t get the attention they deserve?
Hind Seddiqi: I feel the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet is under-rated. Many people only see a Royal Oak when they see Audemars Piguet, but this is a beautiful watch. The finish, movement and technicalities are amazing. The brand didn’t launch just anything, they launched something of value. People need to have an open-mind to appreciate such watches.
THM: That’s an interesting one. Very recently, Seddiqi and Sons has included Chronoswiss in their portfolio. What’s your thought on the newly introduced Metaverse approach?
Hind Seddiqi: I believe the Metaverse is a place where we should be and wait and see what’s going to happen. It’s still in the testing phase but Dubai is playing a big role in becoming a hub for Metaverse. For me, Metaverse is the new future. For brands to create a different experience, just a website is not enough. You need to move into the Metaverse. With watches we need the physical touch and feel experience. However, my fear is that people will love their digital self more than the physical world, which is a point of concern.
THM: What can we expect from Dubai Watch Week, 2023?
Hind Seddiqi: We’re still working on it. We have taken back a lot of information and are working on the same. One of our biggest target audiences is the general public, so we will definitely make it more inviting for them and add the lifestyle element to it. We have new brands on board as participants for the upcoming show. We aren’t going to go bigger because we have exhausted the space. There’s no need to go bigger because there’s a lot going on throughout the show. However, we are working on accommodating more people.
THM: Last but not the least, any plans of bringing the forum to India?
Hind Seddiqi: It actually was part of the plan, but due to COVID restrictions, we had to change it. India is an important market and Indians are some of our biggest collectors and clients.
To end this interesting conversation Hind shared her views on women and watches. She said a lot of women are influencing their husbands’ buying decisions. They know what to buy and they have big potential in this industry. The more they get involved, the more they will get what they’re looking for!