Women We Love: Hind Seddiqi of DubaiBy Barbara Palumbo
Meeting Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi in real life can leave a person in such a state of awe that they may just find themselves basking in the glow of her bright light while simultaneously transfixed on her every word. There is a presence — an aura — to Seddiqi that is genuine and powerful and yet still quite unassuming. The term “quiet force” comes to mind when one thinks of Seddiqi, though being “quiet” about her love of fine timepieces and all of horology itself she is most certainly not. “I’ve always loved watches and have never felt the need to pretend or to follow trends in the market,” she says. “I am known for being brutally honest, having always spoken my mind and trying my best to let people imagine what I envision.”
The Way Women See Watches
As both chief marketing and communications officer at Seddiqi Holding and director general of Dubai Watch Week — a highly anticipated and well-loved watch event held every two years in Dubai — Seddiqi has been an outspoken advocate for education and positive change within the watch community for years, in particular with regard to how women in the Middle East learn about and eventually purchase timepieces.
“Women used to buy only jewelry watches and gold watches, and those would often include diamonds. The coolest women back in the day would be the ones who bought a full gold Rolex Daytona. It took us years to educate our female clients on how to change and evolve their buying habits and mindset,” says Seddiqi. She is a firm believer that the focus needed to shift and that women purchasers deserved to be just as educated about complications and mechanical watchmaking as men. “It took a few brave women who wanted to be different to start the movement. They started wearing their brother’s, father’s and husband’s watches, and then they started investing in their own collections.”
With many in the watch community calling on gender labels to be dropped by brands, a new conversation has now been brought to the forefront, and Seddiqi makes clear her thoughts on the matter. “There are many great choices specifically made for women; however, women today don’t care about watches being labeled as part of a men’s collection. If it suits their taste and fits nicely on their wrist, they go for it,” says Seddiqi. “In the past, women didn’t buy many watches because they were categorized under ‘men’s watches’ in the catalogs and even on the brand websites. Today when you visit many watch websites, you see that the mindset has changed and that watches are now categorized by collection.”
Flik Flak To Click Clack
Asked if there was a specific moment in her life when she could remember showing an interest in watches, Seddiqi goes back to memories of her childhood and her relationship with her father, who eventually taught her about the functionality of his fine mechanical timepieces.
“Earrings were a must-have and when we would go to visit family members, I remember my mom always made sure we accessorized even more with a nice bracelet and necklace. It is part of our culture to wear gold, especially during celebrations,” she recalls. “Eventually as we started to learn how to tell time, my father always came back from Geneva with a new Flik Flak watch for my siblings and me. I remember being the only student in class who wore a watch in fourth grade. At that point, however, it was an accessory and nothing more.”
As Seddiqi grew older, she and her father began spending more time together. That was when her mindset about watches began to change. “I recall my father showing us how to use a chronograph to time the camel races that aired on TV back in the day. That was so fascinating to us at the time and is definitely something we take for granted today with all the technology we are exposed to. That’s when I realized watches are more than just accessories.”
Seddiqi also remembers receiving what she considers to be her first “real” watch. “It was a two-tone, 24mm diameter TAG Heuer S/EL Link with a dark gray dial. I used to love turning the bezel around as it made a ‘click’ sound, which was very therapeutic to me. The watch was a gift from my father for the high score I achieved in my DELF exam, a diploma in French Language studies for non-native speakers. I remember everything about that watch, even the box it came in. I kept it for the longest time and used to put the watch back in its box every night.”
A Current Curation
With over 30 watches to date in her collection, Seddiqi chooses her timepieces carefully, with each having its own unique personality and story. Yet despite her access to brands and direct connection to one of the most respected watch retailers in the world, Seddiqi explains that not all of her watches were easy to come by.
“At Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, we have a ‘Client First’ policy, so we as family members do have to wait a long time before we can own any of the most sought after watches.” When asked if there was one watch in her collection that she considers the most special, from either an emotional or historical standpoint, Seddiqi hesitated a little before answering. “It is almost impossible for me to choose because each one of my watches has a unique story. If I had to, I would say my Patek Philippe 175th Anniversary World Time 7175R-001. This limited edition Patek Philippe was a big dream of mine. I was even hesitant to ask for it because I expected that all the pieces we would receive at the time would be allocated to clients. But with a special piece like this, I knew I had to inform my uncle that I really loved this watch and wanted the chance to own it. He kept quiet and said, ‘We’ll see.’ I remember thinking, ‘Well, I tried.’ A week later, my cousin called me and said they approved allocating a piece to me. I was over the moon.”
As for the watches Seddiqi wears the most in her collection, she makes clear she gives quality time to many, if not all, of them. “I try to rotate my watches as much as I can. What I’m wearing may also depend on my latest purchase. For example, after I bought my F.P. Journe Élégante, I wore it consistently for a very long time. It is a super comfortable watch, and it doesn’t require winding even after many days. When I turned 30, I gifted myself a Rolex Day-Date 40mm white gold with President bracelet and diamond indexes. I wore it almost every day for two years. My Rolex Daytona was my favorite to wear for four years before I made a new purchase,” she says. “So, given all the watches I have purchased over the years, it is very difficult for me to choose one. However, I can say that when I take any of them out of the vault, I wear that particular watch for at least a month before rotating it.”
Does she have a favorite? Seddiqi’s response is as poignant as it is perfect: “I only buy watches I love, so all of them are my favorites.”
While Seddiqi makes clear she very much appreciates vintage timepieces, her collection is mostly made up of modern wristwatches. With that in mind, we ask her which are the most underrated watch brands currently in the market. Her answer has an air of “independence” to it.
“Many of the independent brands are underrated, but the demand and interest in them are increasing rapidly. I think De Bethune, H. Moser & Cie. and Greubel Forsey are certainly some brands to be aware of. The know-how and finishing these brands offer, along with high-end watchmaking, are not appreciated by many. Even so, they have reached a very impressive level in terms of the product mix they are offering.”
In terms of the 2021 watch releases she was most impressed with, Seddiqi’s answers would be pretty difficult for anyone to debate. “This is a tough question as I have been privy to a few upcoming watch releases that are super cool,” she states. “2021 has been a tricky year, but the watch that intrigued our collectors most was the ‘farewell’ edition of the iconic Nautilus. It may not be a breakthrough new timepiece, but for a brand like Patek Philippe to take such a step is big, and then to launch the 5711 with baguette-cut diamonds in steel is not something one pictured.” On the more cost- conscious side of the spectrum, Seddiqi is impressed with Tudor’s Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925 Silver. “It is not an easy metal to work with, but Tudor managed to create a beautiful solution, and the watch looks really nice on the wrist.”
Hind also shares her thoughts on underrated watches in the USD 500 to USD 3,000 price range. “I feel that Louis Erard and the collaborations they have been releasing are super cool; the second edition of Alain Silberstein [a series of three watches known as ‘Le Triptyque’] was hugely successful.”
As for the next addition to her collection, Seddiqi shares that she is interested in a minute repeater though she has not quite decided on the exact watch just yet. “Other than that,” she says, “my sought-after watch of the moment is an F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain with a diamond dial and baguette diamond case.”
Words To Collect By
As for her advice to fellow women watch collectors, Seddiqi feels very strongly about women investing in and purchasing watches they genuinely like. “We still have elements of the copycat culture present in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]. Hence, I always ask clients if they have researched other watches; I ask what they are missing in their collection; and I even question why they are buying another version of the same reference they already own. I would also like to encourage women in the region to take the time to educate themselves about the pieces they are looking to purchase.” Seddiqi adds, “Lastly, I would say it’s important to stop focusing on the future value of the watch. If you really want to be a collector, start by appreciating and understanding your watches, their finishing, innovations, craftsmanship, etc.”
Indeed, Seddiqi is a true believer in building a watch collection based on emotion and education, by both learning about and loving the watch you’re about to purchase. “When you focus on only buying things you like, your collection becomes unique, and it will leave its own mark. So my advice is to be you, to take the time to learn about what is out there and to be smart about when and what to buy.”