x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Precious time reflects UAE history

A dozen rare watches commissioned by Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the nation, are to be displayed at a luxury watch store in Dubai.

The Rolex Precision watch. Courtesy Momentum
The Rolex Precision watch. Courtesy Momentum

Tariq Malik is the founder of Momentum, a luxury store which opened in November of last year in DIFC and specialises in vintage timepieces. Visit Momentum on any normal day and you'll see iconic watches such as the 1971 Rolex Submariner worn by Sean Connery in Dr No or an original Panerai diving watch from the 1930s.

Starting next week, however, in honour of the UAE's 41st anniversary, the store will also display a dozen Rolex watches commissioned by Sheikh Zayed 30 and 40 years ago.

The watches date back to the late 1960s and early 1970s and are part of a select group gifted by Sheikh Zayed and members of the royal family to high-ranking officials, army ambassadors, important delegates and visiting heads of state.

The star piece is a steel, automatic winding Rolex Datejust made for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in 1970. Malik says that he hasn't seen another model like it on the market and believes it to be the most valuable in the display.

These branded pieces were never sold at retail, hence making them all the more coveted.

"The pieces that we are showcasing have been contributed mostly by collectors," says Malik. "Nobody in the UAE who was given a watch would sell it, it's too much of an honour. I think that the few pieces that are on the market belonged to people from abroad who didn't have a strong contact with the country. A local would never give them up."

The Rolex UAE Anniversary exhibition begins tomorrow at Momentum, The Gate Building, Marble Walk, Level B1 Dubai International Financial Center. Call 04 327 4320.

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