A passion for fine watchmaking unites Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and Rolex, an enduring partnership that continues to shape the landscape of watch buying and collecting in the region.
October 25, 2021
Rolex and the Middle East
Today, Dubai is resplendent with an array of Swiss watch brand boutiques that offer a compelling ‘desert edition’ to complement the lakeside boulevards of Geneva. From heritage to cutting-edge, via independents and mega maisons known the world over, it’s fair to say that today, the watch scene here is more than just ticking along nicely.
Dubai also boasts established and savvy collectors; a thriving pre-loved scene and even a few stars of Swiss horology calling Dubai their home from home. We even have our own event – Dubai Watch Week – which has become one of the watch industry’s key dates for the diary.
And while the fine watchmaking scene may sometimes feel as thoughlike it’s been around here almost as long as the inventions themselves, – it’s a surprisingly shorter story than you might think.
Indeed, it was only as recently as the 1950s when the late Mr Ahmed Qasim Seddiqi began the exclusive partnership with one the world’s most famous watch brands – Rolex. That step heralded the beginning of the presence of Swiss watchmakers in the Middle East.
The opening of the boutique was a pivotal moment in the Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons story; after Rolex, many other brands followed suit and today that modest little boutique in a sleepy corner of old Dubai has transformed into a large and successful business with more than 60 timepiece and jewellery brands from around the world.
To further underscore the significance of the relationship, in 2018, Rolex unveiled the largest Rolex Boutique in – yep, you’ve guessed it – the world’s largest mall. Spread over three floors, the exquisite 850-square-metre space is the jewel in the crown of the brand’s retail offering, with the elegant crown logo proudly displayed at the front of the triple-height storefront.
The first Rolex Boutique opened in Bur Dubai, at the time the city’s centre of trade and commerce, after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed assured Rolex that Mr Seddiqi would make a trustworthy custodian of the Swiss watch brand in the UAE. It was 1952, and, while Rolex watches were already very sought after in the region, the boutique allowed local Rolex connoisseurs to purchase the brand’s exceptional timepieces right here on their doorstep for the first time.
When it opened, Abdul Hamied Ahmed Seddiqi, Vice Chairman of Seddiqi Holding, spoke with emotion about the significance of opening the largest Rolex Boutique in the world, in the same country in which the brand had partnered with the company’s founder some 70 years previously. He said: “We are honoured to partner with Rolex on this major endeavour, a landmark for our retail operation which, over more than half a century, has grown from a single shop in Bur Dubai to more than 65 watch boutiques across the UAE, including five [other] Rolex Boutiques. This collaboration marks an enduring relationship and our continued passion for Rolex.”
Deeply integrated into the company’s ethos, this passion continues to define a family business that has always sought to include education, transparency and integrity in its offering. With Dubai Watch Week around the corner – and Rolex sure to be a part of it – that original vision continues to be a key pillar, a part of every wristwatch that is sold; the boutiques may be much bigger and more sophisticated, but the company’s intrinsic values are still the same.