Dubai Watch Week Put the Haute in Haute Horlogerie | Savoir Flair
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Dubai Watch Week Put the Haute in Haute Horlogerie
article VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
by Scarlett Baker 12-minute read November 21, 2023

It's getting haute in here.

article BVLGARI

Arguably the hottest event on the watch industry’s calendar, Dubai Watch Week is now in its sixth iteration. Curators, collectors, and makers from across the globe have gathered in Dubai to celebrate the power and – most importantly – the passion of this cornucopia of craftsmanship. 

Over 60 brands presented their latest and greatest models in partnership with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, who have long championed the growth of watchmaking and its collectors in the region. But it’s not just a gathering of the world’s biggest luxury names looking to cash in on their next clients. That might sound odd. After all, watches are a commodity, and brands need to make money. Still, there’s real cultural value at the core of Dubai Watch Week, allowing brands to become closer to their consumers, and allowing them in turn to meet the makers of their prized watches. It's also constructed in such a way that — whether you’re a member of the public discovering your first tourbillon or in search of your 20th — there's something for everyone.

“Our goal is to create an educational, experiential, and networking event like no other,” shares Director General Hind Seddiqi. And it is just that. A meeting of those who know and those who want to know, sharing their expertise from generation to generation. 

In celebration of Dubai Watch Week’s commitment to the future of watchmaking and the wrists of the future, discover some of the stand-out timepieces from the showcase, witness the watch industry broadening its stage, and get ready to add to your grail list. 

Breitling

The Middle East market's importance to the watch world cannot be understated, and many brands rose to the occasion of Dubai Watch Week with special editions. Breitling had one of the most handsome offerings at the fair, with a gorgeous Chronomat GMT40 featuring a choice between an ice-blue dial and a bright blue dial – both with magnificent Indian numerals.

From here, we move to the daring, as Breitling's CEO Georges Kern tackles the ties between Breitling and its aviation history even further (even when you think they've done it all). This time, the Avenger assembles as a Chronograph B01 with an impressive new redesign and tough construction. Built for bold wrists set to take to the skies, no mission is left unaccomplished with this behemoth timekeeping beast. They say if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but a refresh is always welcome when it comes to watchmaking. 

For over 20 years, Breitling's stellar Avenger model has been pioneering through the skies. While created for fighter pilots, it can also withstand the resistance of an adventure on the ground. Updating the movement with a Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01 (the good stuff), you can choose between blue, green, black, and sand dials because every cockpit differs. With a rotating 60-minute bezel, lume indexes, and a red-topped chrono hand, you'll find that the emphasis with Breitling — and what the brand is so brilliant at — is legible watchmaking. It sounds simple, but it's so often overlooked in the game of telling time. 

article BREITLING

Bvlgari

For as long as we have nature, humans will remain inspired. Such is the case for Bvlgari, a maison renowned for its intricate anthropomorphism of animals into jewels. From the Serpenti to the Viper, Bvlgari refreshes its archive of animalia in time for Dubai Watch Week (while they figure out their next world record in watchmaking) in the hope of ruffling some feathers with the return of the iconoclastic Peacock watch. 

Since the Maison first conceived of this fledgling line in 2021, the watches have gone on to soar, now with three new, and each entirely different, iterations for the fair. It’s not news that watchmaking actually is art, despite the misconceptions that it's just a boys' club for functionality. But Bvlgari really takes the challenge and twists it on its head by showcasing the complexity of what you can actually do with a watch dial. Take marquetry, for instance. But let us crack the lingo for you. Using the ancient technique, by which small pieces of natural material are cut into tiny fragments and pieced together to create a dial, Bvlgari showcases the use of an animated peacock. The Divas’ Dream Peacock Precious Marquetry Jumping Hours and Retrograde Minutes timepiece (the first in the new lineup) flares its tail in a fan of rose gold, snow-set diamonds, aventurine, and malachite – the latter regarded by the ancient Romans as protection against misfortune. If that wasn’t a complex configuration enough, Bvlgari adds a playful way to measure time mechanically with jumping hours, (when the current hour jumps to the next hour as soon as the 60th minute of the current hour is over). 

In the spirit of Dubai’s extravagant showcase, why release one watch when you can release three? Second up, in a quartz variation, is the 33mm Divas’ Dream Peacock Mother-of-Pearl Marquetry, with a crisp – you guessed it mother-of-pearl dial, elevating the silhouette of the peacock. Rounding off Bvlgari’s timely triad, the brand concludes by traversing away from the silhouette of this precious bird and instead holds a lens to the intricate detailing of its feathers. Would you believe it, twelve dexterously hued feathers are collecting upon shedding and transformed with simple tools: a magnifying glass, tweezers, a knife, and scissors. With intelligent hands, a mosaic dial immortalizes nature’s radiance at your wrist. 

article BVLGARI
article CHANEL

Chanel

Chanel? Well, Chanel is always Chanel: the preeminent arbiter of refined excellence in the most superlative form. To quote its founder, "In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” Chanel’s presence at Dubai Watch Week was unmatched, revealing the Haute Horlogerie creations of the house, featuring the J12 Diamond Tourbillon, to Dubai Watch Week audiences for the first time. If you’re familiar with Chanel’s J12, you’ll know it’s as prestigious as the invention of the brand’s 2.55 handbag. And if you’re not, know that it’s considered one of the major watchmaking victories of a fashion maison. 

Indicative of its recognized value, the J12 proves that it's not to be labeled as a "fashion watch" (a slur to any watch purist) with the launch of the aforementioned J12 Diamond Tourbillon model earlier this year. Finally sharing its presence with crowds in the flesh, the updated icon continues the black ceramic emblems, now with 34 baguette-cut diamonds, complete with an 18k white gold crown, the touch of an additional diamond, and the flying tourbillon, the new star of Chanel’s show. Step aside, Choupette

article PATRICK CSAJKO | CHOPARD

Chopard

Somewhere over the rainbow, Chopard heard our prayers. Rendering its (Jennifer Anniston-approved) Alpine Eagle model, the Swiss manufacturer heeded the call for more colors with an all-new gem-set ensemble in 18-carat yellow, white, or rose gold. The great news is you’ve got four options to choose from: Golden Peak, Vals Grey, Pink Dawn, and Zinal Blue, nodding to the Zinal Alpine glacier in Chopard’s motherland. Put simply, it’s diamonds done well, in a way that feels intentional, rather than additional. Coming in at 41mm — it looks smaller on the wrist, so fear not at the 40+ mark — Chopard shows how diamonds can decorate a bezel without taking away from the dial. Don’t be shy, it’s Dubai. Diamonds all day, every day.

article DIOR

Dior

Sure, history has taught us that it’s reasonable to render a snapshot of a street on a canvas. But to do that within the space of a 38mm timepiece speaks to the true majesty of high watchmaking. Perhaps you’re familiar with Dior’s homage to its founder's affinity for stars — the shape upon which he stumbled in 1947 while searching for a sign to begin his empire. Nowadays, it's found throughout the house's collections and accessories. But in true testimony to Dior’s astronomical undertones, Dior Horlogerie, also known as the Grand Soir collection, was spotlighted at Dubai Watch Week with the Grand Soir Automate Etoile de Monsieur Dior in mother-of-pearl, diamond, and hand-engravings.  Rapturous at first glance but enriching at second, its bejeweled mechanical object uses a mechanical automaton that allows stars to shoot up and down the watch, soaring through the sky. Just like Mr. Dior would have wanted. 

article DOXA

Doxa

In an act of firsts, Doxa raised the roof of the DIFC horology hall with the premiere of its mother-of-pearl dial SUB watch. That’s right, diving can be chic, too. Celebrating its partnership with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, Doxa’s SUB 300β Seddiqi Edition 2023 features a deep-sea blue dial made from a unique material — meaning that no two models are quite the same. Naturally, if you’re going to dip into the ocean blue, you need a trusted companion with you. Doxa volunteers to be by your side, boasting 30 ATM water resistance and a 42.5mm size in stainless steel. The general advice is that you can’t have form and function, but with Doxa, you really can. Whether you’re plunging deep or pottering away on land, the SUB 300β Seddiqi Edition 2023 is available with the historic Beads of Rice bracelet in stainless steel or with a white FKM rubber strap for a lighter, more modern look. See: form doesn’t always precede function. 

Hublot

Hublot loves art. The brand will be the first to tell you that too, having coined the slogan well over a decade ago. Partnering with a roster of artists big enough to kickstart its own gallery, Hublot continues its mission of addressing the parallels in these two worlds with two novel timepieces. In a nod towards the region of its launch, Hublot and partner, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, herald the work of calligraphy artist, Wissam Shawkat. Capturing the beauty of Arabic typography and paying homage to Arabian heritage, the two timepieces transpose Arabic writing, stylized in vibrant neon notes, which contrast with the sleekness of Hublot’s coveted Classic Fusion model. “Al Zaman” and “Al Waqt” read the dials, as letters interlink and overlap. Their meaning? Time. 

This refined 42mm model comes with a black ceramic bezel, a matching 42mm power reserve, and a lustrous alligator strap with a steel deployant buckle. But time is, of course, an incomprehensible and mystical thing. After all, Hublot neatly dubbed this model the 'Classic Fusion Black Magic Dubai Watch Week'. In addition to art, it looks like Hublot loves magic, too. 

article HUBLOT
article LOUIS VUITTON

Louis Vuitton

Since the creation of the first Louis Vuitton watch in 2002, the maison has proven that it's so much more than monogram prints. The proof? Never was there a moment when its booth wasn’t crowded with eager eyes looking to try on Louis Vuitton’s signature Tambour watch. Under the helm of Jean Arnault, Louis Vuitton’s watch sector feels revitalized and refined. Its point of view is clear: to bring in some new wrists and use the brand’s roots in the fashion industry to be provocative. Kudos to Louis Vuitton, but the appointment of the maison’s high-end movement manufacturer, La Fabrique de Temps Louis Vuitton, meant that visitors could try on the fabled idols of Gérald Genta (now a vintage collection). To round out the offering, Arnault presented the Louis Vuitton Creative Prize, committed to helping talent shine. This award is for those with bold visions who dare to challenge the status quo in horology. You’ve all been talking about Pharrell's million-dollar bag, but it’s high time we were talking about Louis Vuitton's watches, instead.

article RESEVOIR

Reservoir

Joining the entourage of watch brands that chose to honor their involvement at Dubai Watch Week by collaborating with national talent, Reservoir did so with a smile. The Swiss watchmakers, who take the approach of rendering different measurements of time, from car dials to planes, onto their dials, collaborated with Emirati artist Abdulla Lutfi for a special Dubai Watch Week edition. A fusion of modern art and classic technique, Reservoir maximizes the notion of the dial as a canvas with an Emirati man, robed in a kandoora, taking center stage. Depicted against an urban metropolis with Dubai’s epic skyscrapers informing the design language, boldly hued layers in purple and turquoise denote some of the Emirates' ultra-modern sights. In accordance with the playful spirit — a reminder that watchmaking is often too swathed in seriousness — retrograde minutes showcase a rhythmical telling of time in this 113-piece lineup. Run, don’t walk.

article TAG HEUER

Tag Heuer

If Dubai is regarded for anything, it’s the majesty of its skyline. Taking notes from its geometric prowess, TAG Heuer paid tribute to the architectural spectacle of the city with the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer Tourbillon H02T Dubai Skyline Limited Edition. A mouthful, but a mega one, plays into TAG’s nod towards its host city. Let’s do things in reverse and consider the case back, which depicts a circular portrayal of Dubai's skyscrapers over the movement, with the city’s sans-serif logo taking center stage. In the spirit of avant-garde inventions, TAG Heuer takes the traditional Carrera model and refreshes it with a skeletonization in a 45mm case. With a carbon, dark blue, and anthracite dial, this lightweight sports watch typifies the scope of the city: perpetually pushing the boundaries of human invention. 

article VAN CLEEF & ARPELS

Van Cleef & Arpels

Visitors of Dubai Watch Week strolled through the city's magnificent DIFC district, but over at Van Cleef & Arpels' booth, an enchantment occurred. Transporting visitors to the streets of the maison’s Parisian home (Place Vendôme) with its Poetry of Time exhibit was nothing short of miraculous.

The onus on said show articulated something different for a trade fair of this size. Typically, you expect to see a new watch launched, but Van Cleef’s method was tactful. Among the hubbub of brands hoping to make their launch the loudest, the French house asked its visitors to, in fact, take the time (rather than search for a new version of time) to contemplate the brand today and how far it has come. Resurrecting a street-like structure in its booth, Van Cleef & Arpels warmly guided zealots and newbies alike to discover stories of the Cadenas, the distinguished Alhambra, and the wizardry that is the Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier watch. Should anyone wish to tell you the lie that watchmaking is boring, this is the very model to show them otherwise. So, in the spirit of doing things differently and consistently enticing its audience with surprise, the raison d’être for Van Cleef’s exhibit was not newness, but, in fact, its greatness so far. What’s more poetic than that? 

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