Interview by WP, at DIFC during the Dubai Watch Week

 

Thank you very much for welcoming us in sunny Dubai. We’re happy to be here for this second edition of the Dubai Watch Week

Melika Yazdjerdi:

We’re happy to have you here.

 

Congratulations for this already successful Dubai Watch Week.

As Director [of the Dubai Watch Week], can you tell us what are the keys to success for this event?

Melika Yazdjerdi:

I mean what’s fascinating is that our return on investment or our success has already happened with the presence of the speakers, the brands, the journalists. I can only imagine what the event is going to be like when it’s over. This is for us the most important aspect of the success of Dubai Watch Week, both last year and this year—that people have taken the time out of their schedule to come for an event that’s very new. A lot of the people this year are coming for the first time. So, in a way, they’re also taking the risk because they’ve never been to Dubai Watch Week. They don’t know what to expect. For us, it’s a great honor to have everyone here supporting the event. For me, this is how we measure our success.

 

I think you are right. All the key people are here, it’s a good opportunity to meet the renowned names in the watch industry; the creative directors, designers, watchmakers and the press.

Melika Yazdjerdi:

Absolutely, yes.

 

Now, just coming back to the GPHG, can you please explain how this partnership started? Because it started before the Dubai Watch Week.

Melika Yazdjerdi:

Yes, it did. Absolutely. We hosted the first GPHG event back in 2013 and it came out as a conversation when Mr. Abdul Hamied Ahmed Seddiqi, our chairman, was invited as a GPHG jury member. The discussion happened between him and Carinne Maillard (Director Foundation of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) and Carlo Lamprecht (President Foundation of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) about bringing the exhibition to Dubai and for the first time, we brought the GPHG exhibition to the Middle East back in 2013.

What was very interesting is the level of response that we got from people saying this is fascinating. We’ve never had anything like this in the Middle East before and it really started making us think about what if there was a platform where we could regularly host different events, bringing different exhibitions and being not commercial because that is part of GPHG as well, that there is nothing that you can buy or sell.

So that was what we were really, really interested in. In 2014, we didn’t do the GPHG, but we started thinking about what we could do, we were all saying, “You know, it would be nice to have an event that it’s not commercial and people just come and talk and meet each other on different exhibitions.”

We knew we wanted to focus on an event that was going to be a cultural and educational exchange for the collectors, the general public, the press and everybody else, to exchange information and learn from each other.

Last year in January 2015, I started traveling to SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva) and we started meeting with the Foundation (Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, FHH) and the GPHG (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève).

By that time, we really got down to the preparation; it was May and we literally had three months to prepare the first Dubai Watch Week. The whole thing came together in three months and we were very happy with the result. We were so excited by the level of enthusiasm and support that we received from everyone in the industry. That was really humbling and we were so honored.

Initially, we didn’t know if there was going to be another Dubai Watch Week and whether that was going to happen every year or every other year—we weren’t sure about that. But the brands, the press, the collectors, the speakers, the general public, they all came back and said, “You have to do it next year. You’ve created such a buzz. It would be a shame to miss out on another year.”

We got the approval from the Seddiqi (Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons) management in December 2015 to do a second edition in 2016 and then I traveled to meet with Fabienne Lupo (Chairwoman and Managing Director of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, FHH) and I met with the FHH and the HH Academy and the idea started from there. And here we, are nine months later, at the second edition of Dubai Watch Week and the program is three times the size of last year. It has really exploded with the level of response and support that we received from everyone.

Last year, we hosted 12 international and regional media. This year, we have 45. The number has just kept growing month after month. I think as far as capacity is concerned, we really had maximum capacity with everything. But we couldn’t be more excited and more enthusiastic with everyone being here.

 

Last year, the pre-selected watches were in Dubai. This year, all the winning watches are on display at the Dubai Watch Week

Melika Yazdjerdi:

Exactly. And it’s interesting because we want the Dubai Watch Week to become a platform where you discuss what has happened during the year because we are the last event of the season. But also, a platform where we want you to talk about the trends for next year. This is the precedent that we want to set with Dubai Watch Week where we see how we can help the industry, or influence it in some ways and ideas get exchanged. I mean, I will give you 2 examples: Last year we had Christiaan van der Klaauw as one of the watchmakers from the academy and this year, his Brand is part of the Seddiqi portfolio. Last year our focus was on the independent watchmakers and this year in January, we saw them at SIHH. Independent brands were finally part of SIHH. For us, it’s very interesting to see that the topics or the issues that are being discussed at Dubai Watch Week are in one way or another influencing people or influencing decisions or influencing relationships.

 

One goal of Dubai Watch Week is to educate people and to make them understand fine watchmaking. This year, you started with the FHH Exhibition at the Dubai Mall. Please tell us how this partnership came together, and what do you think about this new platform at the Dubai Mall.

Melika Yazdjerdi:

This was very interesting. When I saw the Cuckoo Clock exhibition, we discussed that idea. I saw that at the SIHH and our vice chairman was there. We all agreed that this should come to Dubai. I mean it’s such a fascinating retrospective of cuckoo clocks that it would be a shame not to have this in Dubai.

When we met with the team at FHH and they were talking about their initiative “Mastery of Time” exhibition, we said this is an amazing opportunity for the general public in Dubai to start looking at the history of time keeping because I always say this: Time keeping, or measuring time is as old as mankind. We’ve been measuring time since centuries ago and it’s very interesting to see how the measurement of time has evolved through technology, innovations, and inventions because today, you have so many different complications and movements and we’ve come such a long way over the past centuries that for a visitor in the Dubai Mall, they literally go through a time tunnel starting with the 12th century all the way to 2015.

They can really see how the measuring of time has evolved and how it has affected material usage, design, creativity, the aesthetics or the movement. It’s really fascinating and I know that we were in a way struggling with where it would be the ideal location for this exhibition, because you need to have a natural footfall. You need natural traffic and of course we discussed this with the Dubai Mall and they were very excited about this as a partner of Dubai Watch Week. And now, they host the 2 exhibitions in their premises. It was a natural choice. Then the FHH team came. They saw the Dubai Mall. They fell in love with it. The match was perfect.

 

It’s great. Thank you very much. This was a very successful Dubai Watch Week for the second edition. Do you already have small hints for the upcoming Dubai Watch Week next year?

Melika Yazdjerdi:

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this question over the past four days. We already know what we want to do for the next edition of Dubai Watch Week. I think the question right now is when is the third edition of Dubai Watch Week. This is something that we want to discuss internally. I think once we wrap up Dubai Watch Week second edition, we’re going to be sending out a survey to a group of people, journalists, speakers, visitors, brands, to get their feedback and see – if they can compare it to the last year and if they’re coming for the first time, what do they like? What do they dislike? This is very important to us and it will give us an idea on when the next edition of Dubai Watch Week is going to happen.

 

But one thing, we already know—that it will be on 2017.

Melika Yazdjerdi:

Hopefully. There are already so many themes and so many ideas coming. Even this year, we had so many different things we wanted to do and we already have a list for next time. We know the kind of exhibitions we want to do on the next one, the kind of programs we want to bring, the speakers. We already have a lot of information and content for the next edition.

 

Thank you very much Melika.

Melika Yazdjerdi:

Thank you so much Pascal, Thank you for your time.

 

Once again you did a very good job with your Team, thank you.

 

 

Related Links :

http://www.dubaiwatchweek.com/

http://www.gphg.org/horlogerie/en

https://sihh.org/

http://www.seddiqi.com/en

 

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