Q. You've had a rich experience in the watch industry. What is one particular work philosophy you always adhere to?
A. I always try to be "first, different and unique". Any project, product, concept or idea that comes to me, it must fit those requirements. It must be the first, it must be unique, it must be different. And then, I would add "all you need is love". If you have passion for your job, you can achieve anything. And I would add "start to love your doubts and believe in your gut feelings". And last but not least, "never hire someone that is inferior to you; only hire people that are better than you".
Q. You oversee Hublot, Zenith and TAG Heuer - each with their distinctive DNA and different price points. How does your strategy differ between the brands?
A. The three brands are quite different in all aspects. They have different products, different prices and completely different DNA. All this makes it easy to differentiate between them and keep their identity and DNA.
Hublot has a very clear message: "The Art of Fusion", bringing together tradition and innovation. [It's] a brand that will not repeat the past, but respect the past in connection with the future. It's a brand that promotes innovation, as innovation is more powerful than knowledge.
Zenith is a very traditional brand and a hidden diamond that we have to [sculpt] for its light to shine. It's a phenomenal brand, but totally unexplored. It has to come back to life and we will start to work on this in the second half of the year. I like the challenge of taking on a brand. For Zenith, I just need to give it new dynamics.
By contrast, TAG Heuer is a young, dynamic brand that stands for design, technology and avant-gardism. At the end, like an orchestra's conductor, I make sure that all the different instruments play in harmony.
Q. Do you think smart watches are the future?
A. It might split the industry in two. On one side will be the "eternity" heritage from the art of watchmaking, which are watches that will be working and repairable in 1,000 or more years. And on the other hand, we might have the "obsolete", which are all the technology watches born from an industrial process and are certain to become obsolete when the process is changed or improved. Those two trends, eternity and obsolete, will never compete against each other, but are rather complementary.
Q. In your opinion, how important is social media for your brands nowadays? How are you using social media to engage a new generation of fans and followers?
A. Social media is the future. If we want to be part of this future, we must connect through all possible communication tools so that the new generation [Generation Y] can connect to us. All our efforts are made towards "Generation Y". We have to adapt our language, our products, our philosophy and our concepts to this new generation.
Q. You are known for making your own cheese. Are there similarities between cheese-making and watchmaking?
A. Since 2003, my farm on the Swiss Alps near Montreux, has been home to nearly 80 cows, and each year we produce around 250,000kg of milk and 5,000kg of the most exclusive cheese in the world. We're just like the first watchmakers of the Swiss Jura - before becoming watchmakers, they were farmers. Today, when I see my farm and cheese, I really get the impression I am connected to the origin of watchmaking. There's nothing better than to feel connected both to the past and the future.
Q. What is your definition of luxury?
A. Luxury is life. Luxury is being alive.