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Arabic dial watches at Christie’s

Middle Eastern signifiers embodied in the finest watch design and craftsmanship offered in Christie’s Watches Online: The Dubai Edit

As part of Watches Online: The Dubai Edit, held by Christie’s Middle East’s from 5 to 19 October 2023, highlights will include:

  • major ensemble of “Arabic dial” watches, day-date Rolexes, consigned by an important client, including timepieces gifted by the late Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said
  • a stunning Patek Phillipe Ref. 5077, one of only 20 ever made, depicting an enamel dial with a miniature painting of two Arab huntsmen engaged in the art of falconry

“It’s not often you see a collector with such a keen eye for unique and spectacular gem-set watches. The collection is very diverse – from vintage Rolex Day-Dates retailed by Asprey and commissioned by the late Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said, the former ruler of Oman, to more contemporary rarities such as the unique Harry Winston Opus 7 with a gem-set bezel. Not forgetting the incredible one-off Patek Philippe Ref. 3843/1. The consigners love of grand complications is evident in the three watches of the Girard-Perregaux Opera trilogy and the Breguet Ref. 3857 perpetual calendar minute repeater. It is a nuanced and well-organised collection that has taken considerable time and effort to curate.”Remy Julia, Head of Watches Christie’s Middle East, India & Africa

Gulf royalty and high-ranking officials in the Middle East often commissioned watches with their name or logo on the dial. These watches were given as state gifts or commemorative tokens to VIPs, diplomats or business partners. In the esoteric world of watch collecting, these “Arabic dial” watches were considered more interesting to collect than the regular-production versions. The late Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said, a man with undeniably exquisite taste and a passion for watchmaking, owned and gave as gifts countless such timepieces. Depending on the level and importance of the occasion, gifts of a “horological nature” ranged from a simple timepiece to a stunning Rolex or Patek Philippe timepiece. The two timepieces above bear the engraving ‘Asprey’ on the caseback. In addition to the standard engravings of the manufacturer, the serial number is engraved above the reference number. This feature is typical of special orders, in these cases from the prestigious London retailer Asprey in the 1970s.