x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UK firm unveils clock to mark UAE's 40 years

A Dh58,000 commemorative clock has been designed to mark UAE National Day.

"You don't find these in jewellers," a Smith of Derby executive said of the clocks that honour National Day.

DUBAI // A British firm is hoping to tap into patriotism and a taste for luxury with a Dh58,000 gold and crystal clock marking the UAE's 40th anniversary.

Only 40 of the clocks will be crafted to commemorate National Day, on December 2.

They are the latest effort by Smith of Derby to capitalise on the rise of high-end tastes in emerging markets, particularly the Middle East.

"You don't find these in jewellers," said Bob Betts, the managing director of the company, on a visit to Dubai last week.

"They're designed to be low volume so our clients can enjoy them knowing that they are very special pieces."

The 150-year-old family business services 4,500 clocks worldwide, including the one in St Paul's Cathedral in London.

It displayed its first timepieces in the Middle East 40 years ago. In 1995, it installed 16 clocks at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

In May it introduced a luxury Islamic prayer clock with markings that indicate the daily prayer times. These start at £10,000 (Dh58,000), while customised versions can cost more than 10 times that.

For the 40th anniversary clocks, the dial will be made of crystal to reflect local tastes, said Kevin Litchfield, the head of design at Smith of Derby.

A cameo will feature the UAE's emblematic falcon.

The clock's hands and base are blue, although the base can be ordered in wood.

Producing each clock involves about two weeks to manually polish 60 parts, then another two weeks to assemble them by hand, Mr Litchfield said.

The clocks will bear the logo of Whitehurst, which is the Smith of Derby line of luxury custom clocks. To confirm exclusivity, each piece will be numbered.

Some Emirati artists praised the overall look of the clock, although they questioned the choice of blue - and the price tag.

"The way it is built looks terrific but the blue colour shouldn't have been there," said Saif Al Muhairi, a photographer from Dubai.

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, a digital artist from Abu Dhabi, said she would have preferred the colours of the UAE flag instead, or another precious metal that might feel more luxurious. "Isn't it kind of very expensive? Who is going to buy it?" Ms Al Suwaidi asked.

chuang@thenational.ae