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18 April 2024

Apparently, time is money

By Maha Obeid


New York jeweller Jacob Arabo’s watches were first seen on the wrists of stars like Madonna, and since then, with the launch of The Quenttin – Rose Gold, topping one million dirhams, they have stayed on the wish-lists of the world’s rich and famous.

The limited-edition watch retails at Dh1,440,000 and is only available at BinHendi Jewellery Stores in Dubai. Only 18 were released worldwide and, to date, only three have been sold in the UAE.

Although many of Arabo’s creations are designed for both men and women, The Quenttin – Rose Gold, is only for the boys.

Jacob & Co was founded in 1981 by Jacob Arabo in New York City. As a young boy Arabo migrated to the United States from Russia with his family and studied jewellery design. After working for jewellery labels and private clients in New York’s famed Diamond District, he opened his own business in 1986 and began designing products under his own brand.

He became well known in the entertainment industry after his jewellery appealed to singers such as Whitney Houston and Mary J Blige, who helped to promote his designs.

He expanded into timepieces in 2002, with The Five Time Zone Collection, which combined bold primary colours with multiple time zone technology. His first designs were inspired by celebrity clients, including Sir Elton John, David Beckham Justin Timberlake, Bono and Naomi Campbell.

Arabo’s philosophy is creating one-of-a-kind jewellery and he has reportedly said: “There are too many generic looking pieces in the marketplace right now – there is a sameness that is not interesting”.

One of the company’s previous designs, The World is Yours timepiece, was recognised last year for its big and bold design. Travel + Leisure, one of the world’s leading travel magazines, presented Jacob & Co with one of its 2006 Design Awards, which honour products and destinations that underscore the significance of design in the traveller’s world.

Designer products always top the price scale and the Quenttin is also crafted with gold and jewels. The bezel and case are made from 18-carat rose gold. The thin plate, which protects the watch dial, is made from sapphires and there are 40 jewels in the watch. The watch-face displays seven vertical rolls, which are the watch’s barrels, the thin cylindrical boxes containing the watches mainspring. These barrels supply energy for a 31-day (744 hour) power reserve. The Quenttin follows the fashion trend for large, ostentatious watches, measuring 56mm by 47mm.

The watch has been billed as the most unusual, complicated timepiece and it is easy to see why. It features vertical mechanical movement with manual winding escapement. It incorporates a Swiss anchor mounted in a Tourbillion cage, which is suspended without roller bearings and positioned vertically. It winds with integrated key, external hand key or it can be motorised in the box. It is water resistant to 30 metres and it has an on-off key for time set up or winding. It is almost guaranteed to never break down, but there is a two-year warranty just in case.

Luxury watches have traditionally been the domain of the Swiss watch companies. At two of the industry’s biggest trade fairs this year, Baselword in Basel and SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) in Geneva, Swiss watchmaker Hublot reported sales of 152 million Swiss francs, about Dh488 million. In November 2007, the Swiss watch industry exported 56.2m Swiss francs (Dh180m) worth of watches to the UAE. The UAE ranked 11 in the list of countries receiving exports.

Swiss watch company the Marvin Watch Company launched in the UAE last month, after having an international presence in 70 countries. Founded in 1805, it prides itself on beautiful, mechanical, reliable and precise watches.

In the UAE, Marvin timepiece’s are distributed through Paris Gallery. As part of its expansion in the Middle East, the company has also expanded into Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. According to Marvin International Sales Director Frederic Bastiat, the move aims to “tap the watches sector in the Gulf”.

Another Swiss watchmaker, Baume et Mercier, recently announced the Middle East launch of its exclusive women’s watch, Riviera XXL, priced at Dh18,560.

The XXL has been marketed as an “an ultra feminine” watch, “combining femininity and prestige” and is aimed at Arab consumers as well as discerning expatriates in the region.

It features the line’s signature twelve-sided design. The double twelve-sided bezel, secured by four gem-set screws, is clothed in white gold for the black version, and sapphire crystal for the pink and white versions. The opulent shapes of the white gold case are set with 400 diamonds totalling 9.5 carats.