Dubai watch week forum

World’s biggest Rolex store owner says waiting lists are shortening

Rolex waiting lists are shortening, according to Mohammed Seddiqi, chief commercial officer at Seddiqi Holding, but only by 20%.

Rolex waiting lists are shortening, according to Mohammed Seddiqi, chief commercial officer at Seddiqi Holding.

In a forum discussion at Dubai Watch Week, he said that the United Arab Emirates is a popular destination for luxury watch shopping.

It is also home to the world’s largest Rolex showroom, which is owned and run by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons.

That may go some way to explaining why waiting lists, or his preferred term “wish lists”, are still interminably long for all but the most valuable clients.

Asked whether recent cooling of demand is making it easier for clients to secure the hottest Rolex watches, he confirmed that Seddiqi still has long lists, but they are shortening.

“For certain references that might have had 10,000 people waiting, we now have 8,000,” he revealed.

Rolex boutique 2
The world’s biggest Rolex boutique is run by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons in the mega Dubai Mall.

Four years’ ago, Mr Seddiqi spoke about waiting lists at Dubai Watch Week with notable candour.

He confirmed what many watch enthusiasts had long feared: that they were unlikely to move towards the top of waiting lists for unicorn watches unless they are consistently big-spenders.

Asked whether this was still the case today, he admitted that it is still extremely challenging keeping so many wealthy clients satisfied with demand running so far ahead of supply.

Mr Seddiqi’s revelation at this year’s Dubai Watch Week was that luxury watch brands deliberately limit supply in order to create waiting lists, and that the dreaded “For Exhibition Purposes Only” signs that appear alongside all Rolex watches in stores are badges of honour.

“Of course!” he replied when asked whether waiting lists are desirable for brands and retailers.

“If something is easily available, you would not want it,” he added.

On the same stage at the Dubai Watch Week panel discussion was Patrick Chalhoub, group president of Chalhoub Group, which represents over 150 luxury fashion brands in the Middle East.

Although the fashion world has many examples of waiting list items — Hermès Birkin handbags, for example — he would never use the Exhibition Only signage that has become so common in the upper reaches of the watch industry.

He also expressed frustration that watch retailers and brands refuse to be transparent about how waiting lists are managed, and questioned why customers cannot be told when they will get their watches.

“Customers should be told a reliable date when they can expect their goods to be delivered, not just sit on a random waiting list,” he suggested.

Pressed on why this was not the case, Mr Seddiqi said that, despite brands getting better at providing longer range guidance on allocations, it was still not precise enough to make firm promises to customers.

“Production is not as precise as we would like. One missing component can cause a bottleneck. The watch industry has not mastered this yet,” he proffered.