Recap: Watches, Diving, & Enthusiasm At Dubai Watch Week

Last week marked the 6th edition of Dubai Watch Week, an educational forum and brand exhibition situated in the heart of Dubai’s Financial Center. This is not a commercial event (no watches are sold by the exhibiting brands) but rather an event put on for the community, featuring masterclass sessions around the craft, open forums from watchmakers, and even debates between collectors and media personalities. This year offered a selection of new release announcements and incredible talks to take in (along with some truly epic watch spotting along the way), and we also took the opportunity to take in a bit more of the surrounding region with a few dives, a trip to the world’s tallest building, and even some Formula 1 racing down the coast in Abu Dhabi for good measure. 

Dubai Watch Week is organized by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, the largest watch retailer in the region, offering everything from Rolex and AP, to Urwerk and MB&F, many of whom are represented in the fair. The grounds of the fair are open to the public and free to attend (though registration is required), with a strong presence from the local enthusiasts communities and their families. Meeting members of the Dubai Watch Club, as well as some enthusiasts passing through the region to take in the fair (including several from our own W&W+ Slack channel) was among the highlights of my time in Dubai.


The fair itself was split into two sections, with an indoor hall surrounded by an outdoor pathway upon which some of the larger brands had built their own spaces and exhibits. Brands such Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Van Cleef & Arpels had their own exhibitions that the public could tour, gaining a glimpse of their histories in the process. It differed from an event like Watches & Wonders in that each booth was developed as a branded experience, rather than closed off meeting rooms and standoffish check-in desks. 

Inside, the booth spaces were more intimate and open, with plenty of watches on display oftentimes right next to the proprietor of the brands creating them. Max of MB&F was there, Felix of Urwerk, Rexhep of Rexhep Rexhepi, Rolf Studer of Oris, etc. All were accessible throughout the fair, and in that sense wasn’t entirely dissimilar to one of our Windup Watch Fairs, bringing brands together directly with enthusiasts. In total, there were 63 brands exhibiting at DWW, including newcomers like Remy Cools, and plenty of familiar faces from the likes of Frederique Constant, Louis Erard, Norqian, and Bremont. One of my favorite releases of the fair came from Bell & Ross, with their lumed composite case BR-X5 (keep an eye out for an in-depth look at this one coming soon).

Ming Thein and Rexhep Rexhepi catching a casual game of foosball in the main hall. The types of scenes you’ll stumble upon at DWW.

There was no shortage of great watches both on display and on the wrists of attendees. Like car spotting on the roads outside the fair, watch spotting within was equally bombastic and over the top, but there were plenty of unexpected and interesting watches to find in between the heavy hitters (which, to be fair, were also pretty fun to see). Chatting with their owners was my favorite experience of the fair, as it often is, and getting a sense of what they were excited to see, hoping to like, and/or looking to buy is where I find the best insights from the local community. It should come as no surprise that the enthusiasts I came across in Dubai were largely interested in, and thinking about the same kinds of things I see discussed in our own community. 

A small selection of watches that caught our eye at DWW

There were a few standout experiences aside from engaging with the local community worth noting. Fist was seeing Andrea Furlan of Furlan Marri upon walking the grounds on day 1. If you’ve had a chance to meet Andrea at a Windup Watch Fair, you know just how delightful a person he is, and to my surprise he was wearing the brand’s Only Watch creation, the Furlan Marri Perpetual Calendar. This is a brand that many of us at Worn & Wound are deeply excited about, and the perpetual calendar is just one of the reasons why. The watch was as impressive in person as it is in pictures, and while I don’t know what will happen with Only Watch or this watch in particular, this is a concept I dearly hope will come to fruition in a standard production form.

Next was my discussion with Manuel Emch of Louis Erard, who I hope to bring onto the Worn & Wound podcast in the coming months. Not only are we big fans of what he’s doing with Louis Erard (and it sounds like there are great things on the horizon), he’s got a side project that represents one of my other favorite watches of the fair. I look forward to bringing you more details on that soon. 

The highlight of the formal programming of DWW was a talk given by Stephen McDonnell, the movement engineer behind many of MB&F’s most elaborate creations, such as the LM Perpetual, and the LM Sequential. Stephen’s talk was deeply insightful, not only breaking down his process of design and development, but also the toll it takes on him personally. Such are his connections to his movements that he can’t bring himself to wear them. This talk (and all others), were live streamed from the event and will live online for all to access. I highly recommend taking the time to watch the video of McDonnell’s emotional presentation, which I’ll leave below. 

Finally, spending the better part of a day with a few other enthusiasts and friends to explore the sprawling Dubai Mall, and visit the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Among the group was watchmaker Simon Brette, who recently won the ‘Horological Revelation’ prize at the GPHG awards for his initial watch, the Chronomètre Artisans (a 12 piece subscription series). Simone offered his unique perspective in discussion, and one that I regret not having my recording equipment to capture for the podcast. A mistake I hope to rectify soon by welcoming him as a proper guest. 

Side note, and to state the obvious, the Burj Khalifa is an immensely tall building in person. Standing next it was near megalophobia triggering. It stands at the base of one of the most impressive shopping centers I’ve ever seen, with every manner of watch boutique you could ever imagine inside, from Tissot to Richard Mille.

After a week of solid watches front to back, it was time for a change of scenery. At daybreak on the final day of the show I hopped in a car and went down the coast to catch a boat I had chartered to go diving in the Persian Gulf. 

After a brutal 12 mile trip out to sea over 4 to 5 foot swells (queue the Costanza “the seas was angry that day, my friends” memes), myself and a few unknowns from around the world backrolled into the 85º water. We did two dives around a submerged barge structure sitting between 70 and 80 feet of depth, with about 12 feet of visibility. A strong undercurrent made it difficult to follow a route, and at the end of the first dive my buddy and I popped up about 100 yards away from the anchored boat. The rough swim back through the swells offered plenty of time to reflect on details like always having an SMB (surface marker buoy) clipped to my kit (which I didn’t).

The dive presented a few other unexpected challenges, including from the Apple Watch Ultra, which I had dutifully charged and updated the night prior. Upon update, the watch will reload some of the apps, and one of them was the Oceanic+ app, which I use as my dive computer. Unfortunately, this app had not been fully reinstalled on the watch, leading to a dive with none of my vitals available, other than the SPG (submersible pressure gauge) at my side. The experience has been pondering a more purpose built dive computer from the likes of Garmin, which would also allow for a remote connection to a tank to get air readings. Before heading down on the second tank, I swapped over to the built-in Depth app on the Ultra which, despite being frustratingly simple, provided a depth and NDL.


The underwater environment was a bit more sterile than I had expected, with a scant few fish wandering about between the enormous structures nestled into the landscape. We stuck close to the other pair of divers this time, and made our way back up the line for a safety stop before resurfacing with way less air than I would have liked (under 200 psi). Both dives offered ample learning opportunities, and despite (or because of) their stresses made me that much stronger a diver. 

The salt-crusted FXD post dive.

On my other wrist was strapped a Tudor Pelagos FXD with black dial and bezel, a watch that has become a trustworthy dive companion. Low light visibility remains a strong suit of the watch, and in this instance made for an important redundancy when the AWU wasn’t cooperating. A twist of the bezel before rolling into the water marked a start time and provided a reference for SPG checks. I was the only diver using PSI instead of bar measurements, making underwater comms about air a challenge (despite pre-dive preparations). The harsh environment at depth was about the exact opposite of the lush fairground, but made for a perfect escape to get out of a suit coat and get a taste of the surrounding areas.

These two dives weren’t the only opportunity to get wet, though. Dubai is home to the deepest pool in the world, called Deep Dive Dubai, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a far more relaxing dive in the calm and clear waters of this 60 meter (197ft) pool. We descended to 60ft and made a slow circular ascent checking out all the sights along the way. This was a more manufactured experience by comparison, with props like foosball and motorcycles placed around the perimeter upon which divers can pose, but it was the exact cool down I needed after the event, which itself was quite tame in comparison to the initial dive excursion. Perspective is everything here. 

A big shout out to my Deep Dive Dubai dive buddy who was rocking a Citizen Aqualand on a mesh bracelet for our dive.


Dubai Watch Week offers an incredible experience for enthusiasts in the region, with access to some of the brightest minds, exciting newcomers, and wild watches the industry has to offer. It doesn’t have the ‘insider’ feel that I feared it might, thanks to the hospitality of the organizers and open layout of the grounds. It does feel exclusive because of the surroundings, the nature of most of the brands exhibiting, and the location, but crucially, never unwelcoming. 

Best of all, there is a thriving enthusiast community in the UAE, and they turned out for this event. While this might be a tough one for folks outside of the region to attend, DWW makes as much of the content freely available online during and after the show, live streaming the discussions and classes, and through, well, media people like me to share our experiences. 

Thanks to the Seddiqi family for providing the opportunity to take part in the event. You can learn more about the event and keep an eye out for Horological Forum events taking place elsewhere around the world at Dubai Watch Week.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.