Autumn 2018

Art & Auctions
Towering Timepiece

An exquisite clock enhances the look and feel of a place, accentuates the architecture and  complements the other furnishings, says architect and horologist Amjad Al Hajj

We have all learnt this lesson at some point in our lives: time is precious, spend it carefully. UAE-based architect and horologist Amjad Al Hajj reminds us of how invaluable time is, by sharing his favourite Arabic idiom: Al Waqt Min Dhahab (Time is made of gold).

And when he says this, he is not referring to one of his Dh28,000 ($7,623) wall clocks, nor is he talking about his ambitious Dubai Clock, a concept that caused a stir at the recently concluded Hotel Show in Dubai.

“The name Dubai Clock has been derived as a symbol and a reminder of the city of Dubai,” Al Hajj explains to Arabian Knight in an interview. “The Dubai Clock is an amalgamation of numerical shapes carefully adorned with scattered numbers made of steel. The design of the clock is conical, twisted and wide from the bottom and narrowing as it approaches the summit.

“I would love to see the Dubai Clock placed in one of the hotel lobbies in the emirate. Nevertheless, if we see great potential coming from outside Dubai, we are happy to deliver our work there as well,” says Al Hajj.

“We like to call this timepiece a culture clock. It is inspired by the sand dunes of Dubai and the form itself is aspiring for the top, which translates to how Dubai sees the future. My passion for time and architectural design inspired me to bring together this piece of art.”

The masterpiece, which comes with a price tag of Dh700,000, has been conceptualised with hotels in mind. Nothing enhances the look and feel of a luxury hotel, resort or country club like an exquisite clock. The right timepieces accentuate the architecture, complement the other furnishings, and improve the overall guest experience. Whether traditional or modern in design, exquisite clocks radiate warmth, beauty and sophisticated elegance across all parts of the property, from the lobby, corridors and function spaces to the restaurants and guest rooms.

The glass and stainless steel model on display at the Hotel Show was 3 metres high with a 140 cm x 140 cm base, but Al Hajj hopes for a commission that is up to 100 m high.

“We also have a great variety of clocks that look fabulous when placed at home. These range anywhere from Dh18,000 to Dh28,000.”

The Dubai Clock is Al Hajj’s most ambitious design so far but his artistic journey began quite early as he was raised in a creative environment, where his parents even encouraged him to paint the walls in his house. “After graduating from University of Jordan in 2000 with a degree in architecture, I worked at an architecture firm in Doha, before starting my own model-making business in Dubai. In 2009, I founded the Horologist, a brand that specialises in conceptual luxury clock design. I have always been interested in watches, anything that is accurate and displays fine craftsmanship. Back then, I made the first clock for my own house and it was integrated into the wall – it kind of grew out of the wall. And from there on, I developed a habit of hanging a new clock in my house every year. It would always draw a lot of attention from guests.”

Al Hajj’s clocks are the cream of his experience in design, architecture and crafts put together. “I am also the founder of Mimar Models, which is into designing building models. Being an architect always taught me to have an eye for design, authenticity and unique structures. This then helped me make sure that each of my designs are distinctive, illustrating personal sentiments.”

It is not so simple to design unique timepieces, Al Hajj tries to give our readers a peek into his creative journey. “There is a whole process which goes in to making a clock. Firstly, I sketch the clock based on my inspiration and this could practically be anywhere – while I am travelling or just sitting in the office. Once the sketch is finalised, I start analysing the design and putting together the materials to be used. This then helps in converting into the final product.

“I believe in the concept of purity which in turn brings simplicity into my work. My aim is to always use materials that are pure and not flashy in colours. I am looking at making more free-standing tower clocks; and hopefully making the Dubai Clock a reality.”

Mimar Models is based in Sharjah, while Al Hajj’s clocks showroom is located in Business Bay, Dubai. 

– By Rashi Sen

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