The (Watch) Faces of Qatar


DOHA, Qatar — The countdown to the World Cup kickoff on Nov. 20 is being marked all over this small country, from the landmark Clock Tower near the Grand Mosque to the Hublot countdown clock at one of the eight stadiums built for the tournament.

And residents of this oil-soaked nation, which has one of the highest individual per capita incomes in the world, have been keeping time themselves with a variety of personal luxury timepieces.

Head of public programs at M7, a creative start-up hub

Watch: Chopard Chronometer L.U.C 1937

For Mr. Al Obaidly, 37, watches have a special connection to his maternal grandfather, who always advised him to use time wisely. But he considers the vintage Cartier watch that was a present from his grandfather to be a kind of family heirloom, so Mr. Al Obaidly rarely wears it. “There’s something about him in that watch,” he said. “I didn’t want to change the narrative by wearing it.”

In 2013, Mr. Al Obaidly bought a rose gold Chopard Chronometer that he said reminded him of one that his grandfather wore for decades: “Time is on your side,” my grandfather told me. “But use it carefully.”

Composer and singer

Watch: Constantin Vacheron Overseas Chronograph 5500V/000R

“This Constantin Vacheron is the perfect accompaniment for me, since it’s a watch made for travelers, and I specialize in world music,” said Ms. Al Fardan, 37. “That’s travel to me. That’s the world.”

Her success as a singer and composer has led her to embrace the sounds of other countries, and this year she composed music for the 2022 Qatar Year of Culture, which celebrated the cultures of the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. “To the rest of the world, a lot of people consider the Middle East to be a monolithic entity with one homogeneous sound, but it’s actually a rich tapestry,” she said.

And that is another reason, she said, that the rose gold Overseas Chronograph appeals to her: “Wearing a watch this size is bold. It makes a statement. It kind of says ‘I’m here.’”

Ambassador program manager, 2022 FIFA World Cup

Watch: Hublot Official FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 LE Automatic

“I was on a trip to London in 2014 and walked past the Hublot shop and asked them if they had any limited-edition watches,” said Mr. Khalid, 37. To his surprise, he was able to snag one of only 200 pieces created for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

At the time Mr. Khalid, who was working in a government job in Qatar, had only a couple of watches. But now he has 26 — and works alongside Hublot, the official timekeeper of the 2022 World Cup.

“It was a total coincidence that me getting this watch sparked my career, my collecting and now I’m dead center in all of this,” he said.

Managing partner at The Creative Union, a branding agency, and co-founder of Qinwan Dates

Watch: Tom Ford Ocean 002

“This watch and even the strap are made out of ocean plastic, and it’s nice that the strap is hand-braided,” said Mr. Al-Yassin, 39. “The beauty of it is that it’s recycled. It’s understated. It’s classical.”

These all were important attributes to the entrepreneur, who works in branding for recycling and sustainability initiatives. His second business is all about dates, that dessert staple of the Middle East, and their boxes are inspired by sadu, traditional Bedouin weaving.

The Tom Ford watch, introduced in 2021, seemed fitting, he said, as Qatar is surrounded by water on three sides.

Artist

Watch: Chanel Matelassé

“This is a watch that was given to my mother when she had her last child, and when I had my first child she gave it to me,” said Ms. Abuissa, 32. “It’s like an heirloom piece.”

She said the delicate Chanel, in gold-plated steel, has always felt like a natural fit for her as an artist, both aesthetically and practically. “I don’t want to wear something heavy because I paint every day,” she said. “I like the fact that it looks like a bracelet. It’s not an in-your-face watch.”

And the timepiece feels artistically appropriate, too. “I’ve always been attracted to very clean lines, and I learned art through looking at and painting nature,” she said. “I’m not up on the watch trends, but I like how things feel.”

Professional athlete

Watch: Richard Mille “Mutaz Essa Barshim” RM 67-02

Richard Mille designed the watch for Mr. Barshim after his silver medal win in the high jump at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The athlete, now 31 and the current world champion, said he wears it daily — even when he competes, as it is relatively light 32 grams (1.1 ounces). And its maroon and white palette echo the colors of the national flag of Qatar.

“The first time I got it was before the World Championships in London in 2017,” Mr. Barshim said, noting that he was wearing the watch when he won that event three times and when he took the gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “For me it carries so much meaning. It’s part of my sporting career.”



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