Christophe Claret presents Mecca and Layla, two timepieces dedicated to the Middle East

Press release
Published June 20th, 2016 - 07:26 GMT
Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons
Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons

A keen connoisseur of history and culture, Christophe Claret unveils a timepiece whose symbolic power is highlighted by the ingenious optical phenomenon of the mirascope. At the center of this limited edition conveying a message of peace, the iconic Kaaba monument symbolizing the Muslim faith appears to literally burst out of the dial.

In the Mecca watch, the micro-engraving of the Kaaba is highlighted by the mirascope, a process invented about thirty years ago at the University of California. The mirascope is composed of two identical parabolic mirrors arranged one on top of the other, creating an elliptical shape. The convex mirror on top has a hole in the middle. When an object is placed in the center of the concave bottom mirror, the reflection from the top mirror creates a hologram of the object, which appears nearly two times larger than it actually is. In implementing this optical effect in the Mecca model, the Kaaba looks as if it is thrusting out of the middle of the watch and offers a 360-degree view of the famous cube-shaped building erected at the center of the sacred mosque in the Holy City of Mecca.

The Mecca timepiece features a wealth of emblematic elements and references to the Muslim faith. First, the dial which opens on to the micro-engraving of the Kaaba is decorated with an oriental-inspired engraved motif lacquered in gray and green, the color of the Muslim faith. To accentuate the symbolism of the piece, the Arabic hour numerals were then replaced at 5 o’clock by a natural diamond and at 7 o’clock by a black spinel. The latter symbolizes the black stone located at the South-East angle of the Kaaba through which Muslims start the seven rounds of the Tawaf in a counterclockwise direction. The diamond represents this same stone, as described in the Koran before it became black due to repeated touching by pilgrims.

The aesthetic and symbolic spectacle is continued on to the back of the Mecca timepiece. The ball-bearing cover is adorned with a transfer depicting the Kaaba, with the movement’s self-winding oscillating weight rotating around it. Crafted in sapphire so as to reveal the meticulous movement finishing, the oscillating weight bears a transferred world map featuring white dots symbolizing Muslims turning around the Kaaba. Three Arabic expressions set the final touch to this new invitation to experience spirtuality. At 12 o’clock, Masjid al-Haram means “The sacred mosque”. At 4 o’clock, the word “Tawaf” evokes the seven turns that the pilgrims must perform around the Kaaba. Finally, at 8 o’clock, Makkah al-Mukarramah means “The Holy City of Mecca”. That says it all, or almost… The circumference of the titanium case also reveals the fact that only 63 passionate enthusiasts will have the chance to wear each version of the Mecca timepiece on their wrist. 63, corresponding to the age of the prophet Mohammed when he died...


Layla features an ingenious mechanism that helps to ‘predict’ – or at least tries to – one of nature’s paramount questions: “Does he love me?” A simple press of the pusher at 2 o’clock brings the watch to life.

With each press, a petal – sometimes a pair of petals, it is impossible to foresee – subtly disappears under the dial in a smooth action, perfectly depicting the delicate undressing of the flower. The eagerly-awaited answer appears at random in calligraphic letters (in Arabic) on the dial at 8 o’clock: a little –a lot – passionately – madly –not at all?

At each press of the pusher, a distinct, crystalline chime resonates, aurally signaling the pace of the game. The striking mechanism is one of Manufacture Claret’s signature complications, blending technical mastery with sublime esthetics, and here its hammer is adorned with a prong-set ruby. A caseband window at 8 o’clock allows clear views of it vertically striking the cathedral gong above. Pressing the reset pusher at 4 o’clock instantly makes all petals reappear around the pistil and turns the ‘sentiment’ display at 8 o’clock to an ellipsis shown by three little dots (…). The petal display and its mechanism have been awarded a patent.

Such an original technique called for ingenious design. The dial exudes romantic femininity. At the whim of its iridescent reflections, the natural pink mother-of-pearl dial reveals delicately engraved verses penned by the Arab poet, Qays Al Mulawwah. The poem from which these excerpts are taken tells the story of Qays, a young poet and son of an illustrious family of Bedouins, who falls in love with his cousin Layla. In Bedouin culture, fathers generally arrange marriages and the young woman’s family refuses this match. Layla weds another suitor, leaves the region and Qays’ lifeless body is discovered several days later, protecting an ultimate poem dedicated to his love.

On the dial, three emeralds at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock poetically punctuate the scene. A pair of gold-tipped, steel hands – each delicately round-polished by hand – glides over the 12 white, satin-lacquered titanium petals that tightly embrace the central emerald pistil, its multi-level corolla intensifying the three-dimensionality of the dial’s landscape.

In perfect harmony with the movement, the feminine gold case has a curved profile to suit even the slimmest wrist. Furthering softening the silhouette of this model, the crown is hidden from view, placed on the back next to the upper lugs.  These subtle gem-set lugs feature different designs that play with the esthetics of the gems. The center of the space between the lugs is adorned with an emerald, while baguette-cut diamonds also create a scintillating play of light around the bezel.

The display back reveals the self-winding rotor, a delicately carved, flower-shaped carousel of colors symbolizing sentiments of love, with a central cabochon concealing the rotor’s ball bearings. Each one of the eight resplendent triangular precious stones denote a feeling – hope, passion, tenderness – also translated into Arabic.  Which one will line up with the red-lacquered heart when the flower halts its waltz? 

The Layla watch blossoms in a 20-piece limited edition.

Christophe Claret’s Founder and CEO

After more than 25 years of developing and creating highly complex watch movements for prestigious Swiss watch brands, Christophe Claret is now a brand in its own right. It is among an exclusive group of independent watchmakers with the capacity to produce an Haute Horlogerie timepiece completely in-house, from first concept to final fine-tuning. The highly exclusive timepieces of the Christophe Claret brand are available in four collections: Traditional Complications Watches, Gaming Complications Watches, Extreme Complications Watches and Ladies’ Complications Watches. The brand’s timepieces constantly push the limits of mechanical watchmaking while remaining faithful to values that ChristopheClaret has always held dear: innovation, perfection, passion, uniqueness and exclusivity.

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Background Information

Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons

The first Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons shop was located in Bur Dubai. As business grew, the Ahmed Seddiqi & sons retail presence expanded from a single shop in Dubai’s souk to a formidable network of elegant stores.
Mr. Ahmed Qasim Seddiqi maintained his focus by offering quality Swiss watches to an array of clients, including royalty and politicians. He furthered the company’s growth through his exclusive franchise agreements with the world’s leading Swiss watch companies and he safeguarded the business by keeping Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons a tight-knit family operation.
The first franchise agreement was signed with Swiss watch brand, West End Watch Co. in 1949, after which the portfolio of brands expanded to include over 90% of the world’s luxury Swiss watch brands.
Today, the passion for luxury watches is deeply embedded into the ethos of the Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons’ family.
What started as one man's passion over 60 years ago is today an empire that brings luxury and honesty to the hearts of watch collectors all over the world.

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