Haute Time UAE recently had the opportunity to sit down with the CEO of Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, one of the region’s biggest and most esteemed retailers of luxury timepieces. We spoke with Nicaise about the development of the UAE watch market, and particularly the rise in a more knowledgeable and engaged clientele.
What changes have you witnessed in the market for high-end watches over the last year? To what do you attribute the increased interest?
Over the last year we have seen that there is indeed a growing interest for high-end fine watchmaking. This increased interest can be attributed to two main factors. First, the UAE customer is more knowledgeable about the art of fine watch making. Secondly, in response to this growing appetite both brand principals and leading retailers such as Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons have been investing heavily in the past few years in nurturing this knowledge by organizing more and more exhibitions highlighting the unique craftsmanship required for the manufacturing needed to produce fine timepieces. In addition, to the above the UAE market has positioned itself as a key and strategic market for the Swiss Watch industry and as a result brands and retailers do not hesitate to invest heavily in marketing and communication to better target the growth potential that this market offers today.
To illustrate the increasingly important weight of the UAE market on the World Distribution of Swiss Watches Export, it is worth noting that in 2013 the UAE was ranked among the top 10 countries in the world and is ranked number five for the first quarter of 2014 (period January to March 2014) preceding in this ranking countries such as Germany, Singapore, Italy and France.
What changes have you observed in the clientele for luxury timepieces in the UAE?
As the leading luxury watch retailer in the region, we put great emphasis on educating the end consumer and some initiatives we have taken in the past few years are supporting this strategy. As such we have organized in 2013 for the first time in the region and in the UAE the GPHG (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) exhibition during which watch aficionados could preview the 70 watches shortlisted and selected by the GPHG Jury to participate in the Grand Prix. The success of such an event is a tangible proof of a growing interest in the region for fine watchmaking. It also shows the appetite of the consumer to become more knowledgeable about the art of watchmaking.
What particular brands do you find UAE watch collectors particularly lean towards?
A new trend is that the increasing knowledge of the UAE watch collector is leading him or her to become more inclined to explore new watchmaking territories. We are thus witnessing a growing interest for upcoming new watchmakers known as “independent.”
What do you think is in store for the future – for Seddiqi and for the watch industry in the UAE?
With the Expo 2020 happening in six years from now, the UAE as a firmly established tourist destination and a UAE luxury watch market that is becoming increasingly more mature, the future looks very promising. However, to remain successful retailers we will need to focus on service and provide more and more expert and knowledgeable customers with impeccable customer relations as well as a unique shopping experience. That is why Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons is also investing heavily on training our retail team on Customer Service and best practice as well as on further strengthening and expanding our After Sales Service facilities to ensure that the impeccable shopping experience does not stop when the sale is done. We want to be able to ensure our customers access at any given time to an expert team of watchmakers. Ultimately, we want to advise them on how to properly maintain and service their watches so that they can enjoy these unique objects of luxury for years to come and pass them on to the next generation.
For more information on Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, visit www.seddiqi.com