What to expect at Dubai Watch Week 2023, from launches to workshops

Excitement ticks up as Rolex, Hublot and Audemars Piguet prepare to lead annual showcase

Dubai Watch Week clocked up more than 16,000 visitors last year. Pawan Singh / The National
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Watch collectors, enthusiasts and makers are descending on the DIFC for the return of Dubai Watch Week.

The sixth edition, which will run from Thursday to Monday at The Gate, will have watch launches, masterclasses and hands-on workshops.

More than 55 brands, including Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chanel and Hublot, will take part. This year's event is the biggest so far, organisers say. Last year, more than 16,000 visited and a greater number are expected to attend.

Here's what to expect.

What's being revealed?

The highlight of any fair is the chance to get up close to new releases and the event offers visitors a huge variety of brands to peruse.

Swiss brand Girard-Perregaux, founded in 1791, will unveil its latest Aston Martin edition timepiece, which is inspired by the Aston Martin DB12. It is being kept firmly under wraps until the event opens, though it echoes many elements of the famous car, including design details such as sculpted contours.

Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, is unveiling the latest iterations of its Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon in two new colours.

The skeletonised Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon Poincon de Geneve has a 42.5mm case. It is carved from a block of artificial sapphire and finished with a titanium crown and horns. In the new colours of yellow and green, there is a monogram flower tourbillon cage rotating in one minute and with a matching logo on the dial.

French jewellery house Van Cleef & Arpels is doubling down on its air of romance with a collection of women's timepieces, including the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantee Or Rose and the Lady Feerie.

The brand will also reveal two new Ludo novelty watches, with a miniature timepiece concealed inside a high jewellery bracelet. With the Ludo first introduced in 1934, these latest editions are made as a supple bracelet, with the watch hidden inside the signature double circle motif.

To mark its 35th anniversary, Frederique Constant will unveil its latest Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar. Limited to 35 pieces, it carries a sporty blue dial housed in a 41mm, 18-karat pink gold case, with day, date and month counter at the noon, three and nine markers, and a tourbillion at the six marker. As the newest edition to the Highlife collection that first began in 1999, it also has a 38-hour power reserve.

Jacob & Co will bring its latest releases, including The World Is Yours – Dual TimeZone. The company's chief executive Benjamin Arabov, who, at 30, is one of the youngest leaders in the watchmaking industry, will be there to speak with visitors. The company's lead watchmaker, Bahman Tagharrobi, will also attend.

A newcomer to the industry is ID Geneve, founded in 2020. Focused on sustainability and traceability, it is showcasing its Circular C watch, which is made from recycled steel.

The company is also investing in self-regenerating carbon fibre, while making straps from 100 per cent upcycled green waste and compostable packaging from mushrooms. The company is backed by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Running alongside Watch Week, auction house Christie's is hosting the Oak Collection, an exhibition of more than 150 unique Patek Phillipe timepieces owned by Henry Graves Jr. The pieces are described as "one-of-a-kind", which is the inspiration for the name Oak.

Former American banker Graves Jr was an avid enthusiast, his collection of Patek Philippe watches is the largest outside of the company's archive. It will be only the second time the collection has been displayed in public. Christie's is also hosting talks and free watch valuations, by appointment.

Workshops and masterclasses

For those eager to learn more, there will be an array of talks, forums and workshops, including one by Max Busser, the founder of MB&F. The former chief executive of Harry Winston Rare Timepieces will share insights into how he created his own company, while Nour Al Hassan, the creator of Kintsugi art workshops, will host a class on the Japanese art of repair using powdered gold.

The Swiss brand Bovet will host a hands-on workshop and show how it makes dials with pure sugar crystals. Visitors will also see how vintage Norwegian silver spoons are transformed into wearable art at the Sheikhen workshop. The Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, meanwhile, is hosting a leather-making workshop to teach visitors about the traditional Emirati art of safeefah.

The Creative Hub and Horology Forum

The Creative Hub is a space for thought-provoking discussions and will feature a conversation with representatives of ID Geneva about sustainability.

Meanwhile, former Tag Heuer chief executive Jean-Claude Biver will look back at his years at Hublot, Omega and Blancpain and talk about how he transformed the industry, steering it away from quartz movements and back to its hand-crafted DNA.

The Horology Forum will examine the crossover between watchmaking, art and luxury, by hosting talks from industry leaders such as the watchmaker Daniela Dufour; chief executive of Audemars Piguet Francois-Henry Bennahmias; and Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi, the chief commercial officer of Seddiqi Holding, which founded Dubai Watch Week in 2015.

Also set to speak are Jean Arnault, the watch director at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton; Wei Koh, founder of Grail Watch and Revolution magazine; author and historian Nicholas Foulkes; and George Bamford, founder of Bamford Watch Department.

Updated: November 16, 2023, 11:03 AM