Not to be confused with the Dubai Jewellery Show, which commences next week at the city's World Trade Centre, Dubai Watch Week is returning for its third consecutive year and will be held in a new, purpose-built structure beneath The Gate in DIFC. The horology event, which was founded in 2015 by watch retailer Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, and operates under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, has confirmed this year's roster of panels and guest speakers.
Between today and Monday, more than 40 of the world's leading watchmakers, collectors and horology experts will share their expertise and personal insights into the world of luxury timepieces, while exhibitions, masterclasses and other exclusive events will give visitors a fascinating glimpse of the staggering complexity of watches, both contemporary and historic.
In a first for Dubai Watch Week, the organisers have teamed up with auction house Christie's to create an interactive Auction Room, where visitors will be able to see how these challenging sales are operated, learn how to bid and can have their own prized watches evaluated. Another masterclass on watchmaking will give attendees the chance to learn first-hand how timepieces are put together.
Over the course of five days, a wide variety of discussion forums will be held, all focused on horology, which, says Melika Yazdjerdi, director of Dubai Watch Week, have been “designed to celebrate the way in which classical craftsmanship is married with contemporary techniques and aesthetics”. She adds that some of the subjects covered will be watch collecting and what it takes to be acknowledged as a watch collector; the role of auction houses; why grand complications are targeted specifically to men; a look into new technologies and their impact on watchmaking; how millennial watchmakers are reshaping the art of timekeeping; and a journey into the history of iconic vintage watches.
The theme for this year is Classic & Contemporary, which will explore the evolution of watchmaking by bringing the industry's rich heritage to light, as well as championing its innovation and creativity, connecting the past to the present. Speaking to The National, Yazdjerdi continues: "Visitors will be able to peel back the layers of the history of watchmaking combined with the intricate techniques of modern-day horology, which we believe has untold depths. We're committed to providing visitors with even more access to untapped information and insights that they may never have had access to before."
Dubai Watch Week aims to be a celebration of the past, present and future of high-end watchmaking, dedicated to keeping alive the traditions that make telling the time an art form. The event exists, say its organisers, to "unite the global watch community for the preservation and transmission of horological knowledge". A refreshing change, then, from the usual corporate oversell experienced in other exhibition halls around the world.
The event's Creative Hub is where the discussion forums will take place, and some of the themes will be entirely practical, such as creative-writing workshops and social-media initiatives. Guest speakers will include the likes of Alexander Friedman, co-founder of The Watches Network; Christian Selmoni, style and heritage director at Vacheron Constantin; Fabrizio Buonamassa, senior director of Bulgari's Watches Design Centre; Felix Baumgartner, founder of Urwerk (not the man famous for free-falling to earth from outer space); François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet; and John Reardon, Christie's international director of watches. Joining these luminaries will be authors, journalists, collectors and industry legends, many of whom are in charge of the world's most famous and exclusive luxury brands.
People can register for any of the events or can find out more about Dubai Watch Week’s programme, along with a full list of guest speakers, at www.dubaiwatchweek.com