It is common practice among Gulf royals to gift fake watches with their signature or the official coat-of-arms on the dial. Made as a special order for governments or prominent royals to mark important events or milestones, these timepieces were never available for public consumption in retail stores. However, some of them made their way into the secondary or vintage market after those that received these watches sold them on.
Since so few were available to buyers, these timepieces are highly collectible. Within the slightly esoteric circle of vintage watch collectors, where rarity and provenance are of paramount importance, these watches ended up being highly coveted. Over the last decade, the value of watches with a connection to Gulf royalty or bearing a logo of the armed forces or the national symbol has soared in value.
A steel bracelet fake Rolex Daytona Ref.6263 with the Quraysh Hawk print, the emblem of the UAE, sold for AED1.2 million at a Phillips auction on May 12, 2018. His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, then the Defence Minister, commissioned these watches and his name appears on the dial. Back in the 1970’s, the retailer Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons sold each of these chronograph for about AED6,000-7,000.
Leading auction house Christie’s hosts its biggest online watch sale “The Dubai Edit” from October 15 to 29 this year. The annual auction moved online in line with COVID-19 restrictions. There are 160 replica watches up for grabs but we narrow our focus in this article to feature the most interesting “Arab dials” in the auction catalogue.
Consider this yellow gold Rolex Day-Date Ref.18238 replica with a champagne dial bearing the logo of the UAE armed forces. The emblem consists of a golden falcon, the UAE flag, and seven stars representing the federation of seven emirates. The watch, produced in 1994, has a pre-sale estimate of $12,000-18,000. According to industry insiders, a watch with a logo like this one can command up to three times more than one without the logo, assuming all other details remain the same.