UAE watches: Unique timepieces to celebrate National Day

Rolex, Franck Muller and Gucci have all made patriotic watches honouring the emirates.

Neil Churchill November 29, 2016

At the Christie’s watch auction in Dubai last month, it was a relatively simple watch that grabbed the pre-hammer headlines. It didn’t have a complicated movement or any functions of note.

Yes, it was a one-of-two limited edition, but it was a pretty standard watch really. It’s only unique feature was the motif on the dial; the Khanjar dagger of Oman, signifying it’s original ownership by the royal household. It sold for over $190,000.

National emblem watch dials are popular in the Gulf region. It makes a timepiece that extra bit unique and rare, while also displaying the owner’s patriotism for his or her nation.

On the occasion of the UAE’s 45th National Day this Friday, a number of watch brands have released special UAE edition watches. They’re not all flag-emblazoned dials, but in a number of obvious ways they display an allegiance to the emirates. Here’s a selection. 

Rolex

Rolex is the godfather of patriotic dials. Back at the Christie’s watch auction in October, there was both a gold Day-Date and a steel Oyster each with UAE emblem designs. 

Momentum Dubai, the vintage watch boutique in DIFC, has nine exclusive UAE Rolex timepieces currently in store. Tariq Malik, owner of Momentum, says these limited edition watches were often produced as gifts to foreign dignitaries as well as to honour military service. On UAE watches in particular, dials have been customised to feature logos of the UAE Air Forces, the UAE Eagle and the Abu Dhabi government.

“While it is difficult to estimate the number of collections issued as far as the UAE is concerned, it’s fair to say they are very rare, very difficult to source and very sought after,” Malik says. “For Emiratis these watches represent a rich piece of history and a token of pride.” 

Franck Muller

Franck Muller has a thing for UAE watches. Its ‘Proud to be Emirati’ edition last year, designed on the brand’s Vanguard Classic collection, named every emirate, included a falcon, the motto ‘United as One’ and despite all that still looked pretty decent.

The 2016 edition you see above comes in new colours and specifications apparently, though we can’t really tell the difference. “Proud to be Emirati” is stamped on the caseback. The collection launches next month at the Franck Muller boutique in Dubai Mall. 

Gucci

It doesn’t need to be the dial, caseback or bezel that changes for UAE recognition. You can just throw on a nato strap in the colours of the flag and voila, you’re being patriotic. That’s essentially what Gucci has done with its GG2570 watch. Its nylon strap in green-red-green is surprisingly effective. It’s available now at Rivoli Group stores across the GCC. Of course you could just go out and buy a similarly coloured strap and apply it to whatever watch you currently own. 

Saint Honore

Known for its Parisian style, Saint Honore has released a special edition of its Monceau chronograph, which gets more patriotic the longer you look at it. Limited to just 45 pieces – for the 45th year – the UAE flag stretches from 4 to 8 o’clock on the dial and the caseback features an engraved map of the country. Even the black crocodile leather strap is finished with red stitching. Available now at Paris Gallery stores. 

Armani

With its sporty design and the red white and green, this Armani Sigma watch looks as Italian as it does Emirati. It’s actually a very functional 44mm piece with a triple dial chronograph, a tachymeter scale and lume on not just the hands but all the hour markers too. Available at Paris Gallery, there are also some matching patriotic cufflinks.

Certina

Certina joined up with local royal racing driver Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal al Qassimi to launch this, the DS Podium big size chronograph, with red white and green spread across its black dial. The limited edition watch – 45 pieces – uses a mix of polished and matte surfaces, helping to make the red hour numbers and green sub-dial hands pop. Its caseback features a map of the UAE. Available now at Emirates Hour Choice at Mall of the Emirates. 

Ferrari

The recognisible ergonomic design of Ferrari’s RedRev watch gets a minor makeover for this UAE special edition. A reflector ring in red, green and white is hard miss, acting as an instep from the black bezel.