In Focus: Dubai vintage watch haven Momentum Dubai
A hidden gem in DIFC
Opened in 2011 in Dubai, Momentum is the UAE's first and only vintage watch boutique. Offering a platform for watch enthusiasts and collectors, Momentum offers a unique assortment of vintage and contemporary watches and accessories from the world's leading manufacturers of quality timepieces. Vintage watches are increasingly seen as art pieces as well as a collectable "asset class", as demonstrated by ongoing successful auctions both internationally & regionally.
Buro 24/7 Middle East speaks to Momentum co-founder Tariq Malik about the concept and the art and culture of vintage timepieces and their collectors...
How did Momentum come about?
I became interested in watches in the early 90s. Swatch just launched at that time with limited edition collections that turned almost every single watch into an instant collectible item. That's how I started, by collecting Swatch watches. Towards the mid 90s their premium was gone and so did the value of my collection. But it was not all lost. Quite the opposite. By then I had caught the bug, and I had embraced the watch collector culture - knowledge, community, passion for watches and appreciation for vintage. I was part of a huge network of avid collectors.
I first came to Dubai in 2008 to visit my childhood friend Anas Halabi, who had just moved here. I visited the malls and was looking for watch shops in particular. I quickly realised that whilst Dubai offered the most sophisticated and diverse high-end luxury brands when it came to watches, buying vintage was simply not an option.
Anas and I thought this was a great opportunity to introduce Dubai to its first specialty boutique store dedicated to vintage and classic watches. So, we started planning. In November 2011, we launched Momentum, a store where watch aficionados in the UAE and the region could count on, to find one of a kind time pieces, superb service, a community of passionate individuals of equally discerning taste, and overall a truly rewarding experience.
What is your earliest memory of watches?
I remember buying my first Swatch at the age of 16, in 1991. It was a 'Limited Edition Chronograph' named 'Silver Star' and I paid 125 German Marks which was equal to approx. AED 300, quite a lot for a Swatch. The Swatch collectors boom had just started and I didn't even know that it was that collectible until I sold it for more than double the amount I paid for it, in just 4 weeks. I guess that was when it all started for me.
What is the most luxurious piece that has ever come to the store?
It was an A.Lange & Soehne pilots watch from the Second World War, only 22 pieces of those were produced on request of the German Air Force, this was one of 19 existing pieces, probably one of the rarest Lange watches existing. The price tag on this one was DHS 245,000. I can't say it was a very luxourious piece but definitively extremely rare and collectible. I am happy it went to a collector who appreciates it.
What's your favourite watch of all time?
That's definitively a Rolex Pre-Daytona Ref 6238 from the early sixties.
Which piece would you love to hunt down and see at Momentum?
I have a passion for vintage Rolex and we do have quite a few in the store but we are currently looking to look deeper into the topic and to get the rare and ultra collectible pieces in, pieces like a 'Paul Newman Daytona' or a 'Double Red Sea Dweller'. Vintage Rolex has internationally become an important topic and recent auctions in Geneva, New York and Hong Kong have shown that those are the pieces reaching world record results.
Who are your clients?
Our clientele is quite diverse. We have watch aficionados in their 50s and 60s with a lot of gravitas and truly impressive collections who look for very specific items, noticeably quite a few UAE nationals among them. We also have younger watch enthusiasts who have just discovered vintage and are about to make their first investments. Increasing, we have noticed ladies are building up vintage watch collections as well.
How do you source the watches?
During the last 20 years I have built an extensive network of private dealers and collectors which helps us sourcing our watches and we are steadily expanding this network by meeting interesting people from the industry. We attend watch shows all over the world and follow the developments and trends. Most of our watches are sourced from Europe, the US and Hong Kong, the main markets when it comes to vintage watches. We do also buy on auctions to get our hands on extremely rare and one of kind pieces.
Which is the best selling brand?
For us I would say Rolex is the number one selling brand today. I have been observing the vintage Rolex collecting craze for a while now since I am collecting myself and the demand is steadily increasing. Apart from that Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, IWC, Jager-LeCoultre and Panerai have always resonated with watch collectors. These watches, including Rolex are not only bought to show the time, they reflect a lifestyle and say a lot about their wearer while, at the same time, are great investments. In general, vintage watches, when chosen from a prestigious brand retain and increase in value. Some collectible pieces even skyrocket in value as proven by international watch auctions, last but not least the results achieved for vintage Rolex in 2013 have exceeded those for Patek Philippe watches and this means something.