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Editorial - First Impressions at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition 2023

Editorial First Impressions at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition 2023

Discovering a different kind of watch fair in the heart of Qatar

The Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition has always held a certain fascination for me. Tales of brands returning to Switzerland without a watch left to sell were like Middle Eastern fairy tales to us back in Europe. Watch fairs in Europe tend to be all business-to-business affairs with no one walking out of the show with a smile on their face and a luxury shopping bag swinging in the breeze. So, when I received an invitation to attend the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition, I couldn’t wait to discover the show for myself. 

Now in its 19th edition, this six-day salon houses 500 local and international watch and jewellery brands in a space that spans 33,000 m2.  Over 30,000 visitors from 175 countries came to look, discover and purchase watches, bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings, diamonds and gold, and smiles and bags were aplenty. 

The watches are divided into four pavilions run by the four main retail groups in the region, each offering a unique architectural design for their areas. At first, it was a little strange to see this retailer-divided format, but within each area, the design codes of the individual brands were very clear, from Rolex and Patek Philippe, to Bulgari and Cartier, Audemars Piguet to Breitling, there was no mistaking where you were shopping.  

My first stop was at Bovet at Blue Salon, where Audrey Raffy was in a non-stop interview extravaganza with the local press, while the rest of the team was allowing visitors try on some of their most complicated models. It was also the first time for her at the fair and she seemed to be enjoying it as much as I was, “Doha is an amazing place because the collectors are extremely knowledgeable about watchmaking in general, and Bovet in particular. It was a pleasure to meet all the collectors and share the Bovet story with the local press. Our Qatar limited editions were especially popular and two even sold out during the fair.” 

First Impressions at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition 2023

Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition 2023 © Bovet

From here I wandered over to sit down with Kurt Kupper from Louis Moinet, who shared, “Luxury is about relationships, talking, seeing each other, and shaking hands. I am so happy to be back and I get the impression that it is a shared feeling. Even if this is a show for selling, the possibility for education, networking and getting the word out are equally important here.”

In terms of new features to the fair, the organisers had installed a television studio to host round table discussions that were streamed on YouTube for those unable to visit the fair, while visitors at the event were able to have their jewellery examined by the internationally certified institute, IDT Gemological Laboratories, as part of DJWE’s collaboration with Al Darwish Jewellery.   

Another first was a stand by Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo. I swung by on several occasions, but Phillips Head of Sales, Alex Ghotbi, was attending to customers each and every time. Catching up with him in Geneva, he shared: “We were delighted to exhibit at the Doha Jewelry and Watch Fair, where we were exhibiting a select number of watches from our Geneva online auction (March 9-16), our Geneva live auction (May 13-14) and a section of watches available for immediate purchase from Phillips Perpetual (our private sales arm). The response was overwhelmingly positive and our booth was taken by storm by collectors, enthusiasts and press. The experience was very positive and we are looking forward in returning next year”. 

Everyone I spoke to seemed to be enjoying sharing their passion for watches with local enthusiasts, and as for me, I was thoroughly impressed by my experience, especially as I could end my day with tea and scones at the show’s tea room, which was run by Harrods no less, and watch all the happy passers-by swinging bags with a smile! 

Next stop Watches and Wonders…stay tuned for more watch fair coverage. 

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