The Lifestyle

Past Perfect for Watch Lovers

Past Perfect for Watch Lovers

As interest in vintage watches grows, collectors have a new source of treasure, here in Dubai

Words by Sandra Lane in The Lifestyle · Mar 15th, 2014

Where does the UAE-based collector go to find special timepieces from the past? it used to be that the more interesting the watch, the further afield he or she would have to search - specialist dealers in Europe or the US, online forums and auctions (with all of the risks attendant in the latter, dubious provenance of the pieces - even outright fakes - being high on the list). Now, however, there is a great source right here in Dubai: Momentum, founded by Tariq Malik (left, above) and Anas Halabi (right), who have been friends since their school days in Germany.

To call Tariq a watch dealer is like calling caviar fish eggs: literally true but nowhere near the real truth. He is a man possessed, driven by lifelong passion for vintage timepieces, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of what makes them tick. Show him a Rolex (for instance) that looks to the casual watch aficionado much like many other Rolexes, and he will reel off the year, model and even reference number without having to look them up.

Anas is equally enthusiastic: "Vintage watches are increasingly seen as art pieces, as well as a collectable asset. Momentum is aimed at this." In the boutique, rare sports watches from the 1950s to '70s line up alongside decades-old pieces from Lange, Audemars Piguet, Panerai and Longines, early military watches, and some very cool 1970s women's cocktail watches. Some of the most interesting pieces are just passing briefly through - the fruits of momentum's search, on behalf of clients, for specific pieces. if you time it right, Tariq will happily show you these treasures - just for a moment.

Momentum's fans come not only for the watches but also for the camaraderie - the chance to sit a while, have a coffee, leaf through one of momentum's superb books about horological history. It has become a de facto clubroom for an interesting group of people who happen to love watches.

Momentum has some truly fine accessories - including leather and NATO-style webbing straps - as well as great expertise in watch preservation and restoration. (Knowing not to over-restore a vintage piece is just as important as doing any necessary maintenance.)

In October the boutique will host the first of a planned series of exhibitions - this one consisting of highlights from Oliver Wulff's remarkable collection of pre-ww2 aviation instruments and memorabilia, as well as some of the world's most fiercely coveted of the very early Pilot's watches. Not to be missed!