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Dubai Watch Week - The Growing Sect of Women Watch Collectors of Dubai

Dubai Watch Week The Growing Sect of Women Watch Collectors of Dubai

Women watch collectors in Dubai is a small but growing segment of the market, and a huge potential for brands.

Last week in Dubai, one of the largest horological forums, Dubai Watch Week, took place. A unique week consisting of watch education, hands-on demonstrations and new product unveilings, Dubai Watch Week is hosted by family-run Seddiqi Holding — the largest retailer of fine watches in the region. This year, the fourth edition drew hundreds of watch lovers (as well as international press) to the show. While the visitors were predominantly men, a host of women also attended — some who have developed a unique passion for the world of watches.

“Women are beginning to show an nterest in mechanical watches,” says Aysha Alshareif, one of four co-founders (with Fatima Almulla, Sandra Lane and Bushra Alhamadi) of a women’s watch club. The club, Dubai Watch Club Girls, is established as the female side of the Dubai Watch Club for men. The co-founders wanted their own group to discuss watches and the Club took form just a few years ago. Today, the small group meets regularly and relies on educational social media to bring their passion for watches to other women. 

Les collectionneuses de montres de Dubaï, une secte en pleine expansion

Dubai Watch Club Girls co-founders Sandra Lane and Aysha Alshareif (first and second from right) love Dubai Watch Week for the chance to spend time with and learn from industry figures such as Czapek & Cie CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel and legendary casemaker Jean-Pierre Hagmann. Pictured far left, another core member of the internationally diverse Dubai Watch Club Girls, Christina Sang.

“We share what we love and what we think is interesting, and we also share this online in both Arabic and English,” says Alshareif. “For us it is all about the movement, the complication. We love diamonds, but just putting diamonds on a watch is not enough. We care about the complications. I used to not know to look at the movement first and then the case and then the dial. But I have learned and now instead of looking at the dial first, I look at the movement and the case. Our goal is to help other women who like watches to understand.”

Alshareif says that social media has played a big role in helping women to discover, experience and learn about watches.  “Thanks to social media, there is a real interest in what goes into the making of watches.  Wearing a good watch makes you feel good. The watch completes the look: a good handbag, nice shoes and a great watch.”

Sandra Lane, specialist watch journalist who has been living in Dubai for more than a decade, says that there are two types of women watch buyers in Dubai, ones who want to learn more and get educated, and those who just want to buy the big brand names. “This culture is mostly brand driven. Nobody wants to invest in a watch that they are not sure of. They want the assurance that buying a known and established brand name, such as Cartier, Bulgari, Rolex, or Patek Philippe, brings. But there is a small group that is looking to learn, that wants to go beyond the aesthetics and learn about the movement.”

According to Lane, $7,000 to $8,000 is the average opening price a woman in Dubai will spend for a “proper” watch, especially a first-time buy.  Lane also says that social media has played a role in the burgeoning interest in watches by women, but from an educational standpoint, not from an “influencer” perspective. 

Les collectionneuses de montres de Dubaï, une secte en pleine expansion

Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi, Director General of Dubai Watch Week and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Seddiqi Holding

Similarly, Hind Seddiqi, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Seddiqi Holding and Director General for Dubai Watch Week, says that in Dubai, influencers are not the way to reach serious watch lovers. In a panel discussion entitled Control Freak, during which she wore one of her favourite timepieces from this year — the winner of the Ladies’ Complication prize at the 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (the MB&F Legacy Machine Flying T), Hind said that what really counts when it comes to watches is the relationship between the retailer and the customer, and that offering hands-on interaction and education is the way to go. “The human factor is so important.”

Alshareif concurs, “When we meet the watchmakers — like here at Dubai Watch Week — you can see their passion for watches, he tells a story and when he tries to share his thinking about the watch, this makes a huge difference. What Seddiqi has done here is amazing and it helps educate people and to bring us together with the brands.”

The Growing Sect of Women Watch Collectors of Dubai

A female visitor manipulates the intricate time display of the Genus GNS1.2, winner of the Mechanican Exception prize at the Grad Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève 2019