Hind Seddiqi is the woman behind the UAE’s largest watch retailer – Robb Report
When you grow up surrounded by watches, in a family that is prominent in the business, you can expect your personal collection to come under scrutiny. Last fall, during the fifth Dubai Watch Week, journalists gathered not only to glimpse the limited editions unveiled by the brands, but also to discover the wrist of the tastemaker behind the show, Hind Seddiqi.
What does a person who has both means and opportunity wear when they have access to the best of the best? Her collection, like the woman herself, has an understated yet commanding presence. Her pieces are as scholarly and collectible as one would expect, but to her they carry an emotional value that goes beyond their market value. Some were gifts from family members who are dear to him. Others marked milestones in her life – graduating from college and the birth of her first son. All were chosen with the sharp eye of a true aficionado.
Seddiqi is the granddaughter of the founder of Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons, the largest watch retailer in the United Arab Emirates, with 51+ locations. She is the company’s marketing director and is also the general manager of Dubai Watch Week, the watch fair and forum the family has been organizing since 2015. “There are so many great watches out there,” she says. “I’m lucky to be with them. It’s a dangerous business to work in.
What was your first important watch?
the [Rolex] Daytona—in yellow gold, with a black mother-of-pearl dial. I bought it in 2005 when I graduated from university. I remember taking it to our service center to have some links removed and our technician was very worried about how much gold I was removing. He was asking me why I was buying a men’s watch anyway. I said, ‘Don’t worry, I love it.’ The Daytona is one of those men’s watches that women love and wear a lot.
Can you have any watches you would like?
When I first joined the company, whenever a new shipment came in, we would all come down and look at the watches and often choose what we wanted to buy. That was in 2006. Today it becomes much more difficult because they are so limited. I wish I had a newer Daytona, but I’m on the waiting list, believe it or not. We have a system and customers come first. It is difficult.
Which do you wear the most?
A white gold Rolex Day-Date that is no longer manufactured. The dial is black but the reflection of the large diamonds on the bezel gives it a beautiful dark gray. It is a classic and timeless men’s watch. I have a lot of men, and it’s a good thing because I have three boys who will inherit my collection, they will be very happy. I’ve always been drawn to men’s watches. I think I’m influenced by what I see my dad (Hamied Seddiqi, VP of Seddiqi Holdings) wearing. In addition, the movements and mechanics of men’s watches are more interesting.
What’s your favorite?
Patek Philippe World Time for Ladies. It was a dream watch, and I don’t think I could get it today, given the market situation. I remember saying to my uncle (Abdulmagied Seddiqi, commercial manager) if you have the chance, would it be possible to assign me one? He said, ‘Okay, we’ll see.’ I didn’t expect to get it, so when he called and said they had it approved, I was over the moon. I will never forget that. It’s a nice watch.
Do you have other watches for women?
I tend to lean towards men’s, but I also like women’s pieces. I don’t know if you can call it a watch [she holds up a Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra pendant watch] but it’s cute and i love it. I can wear it as a necklace and it frees my wrist to wear another watch.
Which watch has the most sentimental value for you?
A Moser Endeavor Center Seconds with a bright yellow dial given to me during Dubai Watch Week 2017 by my cousin (Osama Ibrahim Seddiqi, CFO of Seddiqi Holding), and he has one too. It is one of only two rooms. Moser made them especially for us because we both love yellow. It brings back warm memories of this year during DWW, so it’s pretty special to me.
What is your grail watch?
My ultimate must-have watch is a women’s minute repeater from Patek. I love the ones with miniature paintings. But let’s see when and how. I’m saving for that. My cousin says, “Hey, you skipped the whirlwind,” but I don’t want a whirlwind, I just want a repeat. Some collectors think you should acquire complications in stages, but there is no order. I think you should just do what you want when you get the chance.
If you could design the perfect women’s watch, what would it look like?
It had to be very comfortable on the wrist. I would design something light and easy to wear everyday. The finish should be spectacular, if only on the back of the movement. The bracelets should be easily interchangeable, because I love changing colors, especially on a classic case. As you can see, I buy more watches with straps than with straps. For size I would say around 40mm. Other women go for smaller sizes, but for me 40 is ideal. Also, I love hard stone dials, like the malachite one MB&F just put on the FlyingT.
What’s it like working with mostly men in a male-dominated company?
When I joined the company, we had very few women in the head office. I remember going to many meetings and being the only woman, but that is starting to change, for us and in the region in general. I was lucky because I had great support from my male cousins that I work with, my father and my uncles. They gave me power. I never felt like I belonged or that I shouldn’t be there. I actually felt like they needed a woman’s perspective on things, and they appreciated it, they encouraged it. I know there are women who have been in far worse situations than mine, but I think that’s changing, and we’re starting to scare men, like, “Oh my God, another female CEO.” , there are men who still think that way. But you know, the impact of women in the industry can be seen. You can see it in the way we talk about watches and write about watches, and the women who come after us will have it easier.
What about the industry’s approach to women’s watches?
We weren’t used to seeing women’s watches in launches, but that’s changing. Now they always think of women. They ask women what they want, and they know that women also have a very strong purchasing power, which they cannot ignore. I also think women today aren’t afraid to wear what’s labeled a men’s watch – in fact, we should drop that term and just go by the size. Maybe we can also encourage men to wear small diamond watches. We never know.