The answer to all of the above is the same – and you might have even guessed it: Switzerland.
However, a new market has successfully entered the global horology scene. And it’s quite a stretch from Switzerland – both culturally and geographically. For the longest time, The Middle East represented some sort of Pandora’s Box for any businessmen coming from the Western hemisphere. Although the area holds a lot of wealth, it also entails a culture that is fundamentally different in many respects. Just imagine your beloved Daytona suddenly came with Arabic digits instead of the “regular” European writing. My point exactly…
Back in the days, timepieces by Patek Philippe, Rolex or Audemars Piguet and the likes were the IT gift. Royal families tended to give personalised versions of the popular watches to ministries and shaikhs. One of the best known cases of this gifting are the watches given to the jet pilots of the Al Maktoum family. Although the popularity of such watches varies quite a bit, there was one case in 2016 where a Nautilus made for the Sultanate of Oman sold for USD 200,000 at a Christie’s auction.
Nowadays, the Middle East watch market is a well established institution with Dubai being the center of attention. In order for a brand to create a presence in the Middle East, this metropolis is like New York for the United States – it is essential for the brand’s awareness.
Unfortunately, it seems like local buyers still suffer from an old stereotype that portrays an Arab as the kind of person that buys the most iced out Rolex with the highest carat weight. When in fact, the Middle East consumer is well aware and educated about high quality watches.
Auctions in the Middle East have a high selling percentage and there is great potential for female watches, which makes this market truly unique. With Dubai Watch Week turning into a globally renowned event, the Emirates are not to be underestimated!
By Vanessa Loeffler