During the fourth edition of Dubai Watch Week, we sat down with Hind Seddiqi, director-general of DWW. Placed under the theme «Innovation and Technology», the event gathered the giants of horology in Dubai under the Gate of DIFC. We spoke about topics related to watchmaking, women’s taste for mechanical watches and talking to the youth.
Dubai Watch Week is celebrating its 4th edition. How could you evaluate this event? Its evolution?
We are where we wanted to be at this point. Back in 2015, we started in the Gate village, in the galleries. We used to book the galleries. We used to do the horology forum in one gallery, exhibit the independent brands in one gallery, and the other brands in another one. From being in small spaces we evolved and came under the Gate. The number of participating brands increased, we have two brands like Rolex and Chopard that wanted their own independent spaces. Brands are starting to understand our approach and where we are going. I am sure in 2020-21 things will evolve in a way that we will get the brands to do things even more differently.
One of the main targeted audiences is young people, and the traditional communication way doesn’t match with them…
The youth is a very important target audience segment, but at the same time, they are difficult. In order for you to talk like them, you need to do things that they want. There’s a way of presenting the products to make them attractive and interesting to the youth.
What were the challenges at the beginning in 2015 and the ones you are facing today?
It’s always challenging to convince the brands to come. We also had the challenge to convince the international press to fly to Dubai for a watch event for five days. To attract speakers to the forum is always challenging because we set the topics for the panels. We do not allow any brand involvement in the horology forum. If a brand has something to talk about that is not covered in the horology forum, they could create a hub to talk about whatever they like. That will always remain a challenge, to get people to talk about things maybe sometimes they don’t like to talk about it. Because of the way it is designed, we are able to attract more and more. I think this will always be the biggest challenge.
Don’t you think that with time and trust it would be easier to convince them?
If the topics we are going to highlight are going to get more daring and controversial, it will remain challenging so it depends on how far we would like to push the cards.
There’s a lot of spotlight on the independent brands, why?
When we started in 2015, we invited only independent brands. Our exhibition back then was themed«The Rebels of Time», because they were rebellious in the way they do things in the industry. We need to provide a platform for independent brands with a reasonable budget, for the people to see them. Our visitors remember the watches they’ve seen with independent brands more than the watches seen with bigger brands. So there is a big interest in them because they are daring, they are different and they have the freedom to create whatever they want. We will continue to support independent brands.
You were the first female of the family to join the corporate side of the business and you are the director-general of Dubai watch week. You are a strong figure in watchmaking, how can you target young women?
The purchasing power of women in the Middle East is quite strong. We have a big interest from women who love watches, they’re buying things differently, their collection is becoming more refined. We do women factory tours or we encourage the husband to bring his wife to the tours. Sometimes women don’t understand why their husband is paying a crazy amount of money on watches so it’s good that they come with us and see and when they do that they get converted themselves. In the Middle East, we have women with a very high taste and they know where they are putting their money. That’s why we see brands creating specific watches only for women like Max Büsser with his Flying T.He could have done Flying T for men, however, he chose to do it for women.
Don’t you think that the brands took too long to create watches for women?
We cannot deny that the men are still stronger as a clientele in the watch industry but also we see women evolving, men are purchasing important watches for their wives. Patek Philippe is creating complications for women. There was also a time where women used to wear only men watches.
Isn’t it because they couldn’t find what they wanted in the women’s section?
Yes, but for instance even with Rolex a brand that always had a collection for women, women were still inclined to buy the male watches. They used to prefer a Daytonaovera Date Just and it’s still happening. However, for a brand like F.P Journe to create a watch for women like the Elegante we’ve seen tremendous success in that. There is a big potential and I think more will come.
Will we see during Dubai Watch Week special editions for women?
We launched this year the H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Diamonds watch. We’ve done previously Dubai editions for women in small quantities with Hublot, with Chopard and it’s good but it will never be in the same quantities as men. It’s slow growth. However, the Endeavour Diamonds for women by H. Moser is sold out.
Would we ever see Dubai Watch Week themed exclusively around women?
No, I don’t think so. We like to be balanced between women and men.
You grew up in a family passionate about watchmaking, how did that passion you have for watchmaking come to be?
The family has been in the business for seventy years. Growing up in a household where all they do is appreciate watches and talk about the craft is to be appreciated, you automatically become attached to this industry. I’ve always heard my father talking about watches, showing us what they are and how they work. We spent most of our summers in Geneva visiting factories, you can’t but fall in love and get involved. My sixteen years old nephew knows more about watches than me. We’re seeing this trend in the GCC among this age group where they’re crazy about watches. I think it’s because they love football, they love music and they see the celebrities when they do their search wearing watches and when they land on a platform like Youtube that has a lot of content and Watch Box studios is one of the biggest content providers for education on watches, it’s really an interesting industry they need to package it in a way that it becomes more attractive to the young people.
You are a watch collector, which watches form your collection?
My taste is very different from typical women… I love men’s watches! I buy a watch because I like it not because it’s a trend. Most of the watches I have you probably won’t see them on any other woman’s wrist. I was the first woman to buy a Richard Mille back then. Today the price of my watch doubled and all the women wish to own a Richard Mille watch. Maybe because I’m in the industry so I have a feel…Even with F.P.Journe, I purchased the Elegante the moment it launched. I made everyone around me buy it. The fact that I can convince people to buy a watch is a strength.
What watch have you been wearing mostly these days?
The Elegante by F.P. Journe, to be honest with you. It’s very comfortable I don’t need to wind it. I travel with it, I can wear it day and night. It’s also safe and doesn’t attract a lot of attention.
Your go-to watch for the evening?
Generally, I have leather strap watches, I don’t have a lot of bracelet watches. My best choices for the evening are Chopard and Piaget and Graff as well.
Do you remember your first watch?
Yes, it was a Tag Heuer Link in steel and gold with a black dial and it was a gift from my father when I was in seventh grade. He gifted it to me because I got the French Delf certification and I still have it.
If you had to choose one complication?
The Minute Repeater. I would love to own a minute repeater from Patek Philippe.