< CEO Speak >
Cartier MD Patrick Normand in a tête-à-tête with Mitrajit Bhattacharya says that the brand, with its strong personality, appeals to achievers
What are the effects of global meltdown on a brand like Cartier?
We have been around for 162 years. We have gone through three wars, including the last two World Wars. We went through a lot of global economic crises. But Cartier is still around. Whenever you are talking about ultimate luxury and timeless creations, there is going to be no issue in the long run. It does not mean that there will not be hiccups. In very good times you see a lot of companies, which may not sustain in the long run, prospering; while when you look at the major luxury houses and the ultimate luxury which Cartier belongs to, it is clear that things will come through in a nice way.
Do you believe that strong brands will emerge stronger and the weak become weaker after the crisis?
I strongly believe so. Cartier has been very careful in not overextending itself, in doing things right during the easy times. We will be definitely getting stronger.
What is the relevance of a market like the Middle East and India in Cartier’s global scheme of things, today and tomorrow?
If you look at the Middle East and India, they are definitely those parts of the world which are getting globally stronger, specifically when it comes to luxury. So the relevance is even stronger in these specific times. The Middle East governments have been very smart. They have invested their oil surpluses in infrastructure, in developing their countries and so on. This is sustainable growth; you will see the benefits in the long run. It’s the same with India. When you look at what has happened over the past few years, the growth, the development of the infrastructure, all of it is going in the right direction and you know that India with her 1.1 billion strong population is definitely going to be more significant for luxury in the long run.
In the past couple of years we have seen some very definitive strides from you in terms of owning proprietary movements, putting Cartier in a very strong position as far as a serious watchmaker at the highend is concerned. What will we be seeing in the near future?
I think, at Cartier, we are definitely the ultimate as far as high jewellery is concerned. We want to be the ultimate as far as watchmaking is concerned as well. So we have set up a very strong manufacturing unit in the Canton of Geneva to create a movement with the Geneva Seal which is this beautiful flying Tourbillon that is in Ballon Bleu, the Tank Américaine and Santos 100, but at the same time we have been true to our values too. We have been very creative. You have seen the Santos 100 with this beautiful movement. It is so pure, so simple, but still so full of personality. I think we are just aligning our values in the different creative fields where we are represented.
If you compare the buyer of a Cartier Tourbillon with that of a Parmigiani Tourbillon or IWC Tourbillon, is there a difference in their personality?
For many years, a lot of disappointed men customers have come to us asking what we have to offer them since we have been creating a lot of beautiful jewellery watches for their wives. I think a typical Cartier customer was not taken care of by us back then. I do not know whether that customer would have gone and bought something from another luxury watch house. But today the whole retail industry is telling us how we are really significant and a part of the high watchmaking trend.